Friday, October 7, 2016

Imaginary Q&A with Colm Imbert

Last week, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, presented the 2017 Budget, entitled “Shaping a Brighter Future:  A Blueprint for Transformation and Growth” to Parliament.  I wanted to meet the Minister to discuss the budget at his office in Port of Spain. But then I realized driving to Port of Spain from Chaguanas is burning gas I can’t afford. I figured it would be cheaper to simply imagine interviewing Minister Imbert. So that’s what I did. Here’s how it went:

Darryn:                                 Minister, are you pleased with the 2017 budget?

Minister Imbert:                 Yes Darryn, I’m very pleased. As you know these are tough times. We can’t afford to point fingers or play politics. We need to come together as one people and say “it’s all Kamla’s fault we are in this mess-and we should all vote PNM forever”.

Darryn:                                 The budget expenditure is $53.4 Billion with a deficit of $6 Billon. How do you intend compensate?

Minister Imbert:                 First we will implement the Property Tax and bring the Revenue Authority on line. But what I’m really excited about is this collection of lotto tickets I just bought. The Prime Minister dreamt 6 numbers last night. You know he dreamt the coup was gonna happen right? It’s in his new book. We sure to win.

Darryn:                                 Sir is taxes and buying lottery tickets a realistic way to raise revenue?

Minister Imbert:                 You need to be in it to win it Darryn!

Darryn:                                 Minister, you mentioned the Property Tax and the Revenue Authority in your last budget. In fact your last Budget mentioned initiatives similar to those in this Budget.

Minister Imbert:                 Yes. It’s called recycling Darryn. Duh. That’s what people do in a recession. They reuse things. Like clothes, furniture and fiscal policy documents. I just tore the cover off the last budget and replaced it with a new one; thus saving the taxpayer thousands of dollars in new paper and ink.

Darryn:                                 But when will you actually implement these things? 

Minister Imbert:                 We can’t rush Darryn. There is a delicate way Parliament implements policy. We have to carefully think it out, debate the pros and cons and consult with stakeholders. And then rush the legislation in last minute in a fit of panic.

Darryn:                                 Minister, your proposed 7% tax on online purchases hasn’t been received well with some. There is an online petition calling you to scrap it.

Minister Imbert:                 Yes I’m aware of that. Which is why I’m also now proposing a 10% tax on online petitions against the Government. People always upset with the Government for something or the other. It makes sense to tax it.

Darryn:                                 Sir, you’ve also imposed a 30% tax on persons and companies whose income or profits exceed 1 Million dollars each year. Are you worried about capital flight?

Minister Imbert:                 What’s that, flying Liatt?

Darryn:                                 No it’s when money and assets rapidly move out of the country due to high taxes or economic uncertainty.

Minister Imbert:                 Where people going to go Darryn? Trump is probably going to win in the US. The UK voted for Brexit. You can’t even open a shell company in Panama anymore without some hacker finding out. My message is simple “if you name man, take your money outside the country”

 Darryn:                                Minister you’ve outlined a Public Private Partnership model for the Couva Children’s Hospital. Is this part of a new economic philosophy?

Minister Imbert:                 Yes it is. As the Prime Minister said; stop expecting the government to do everything for you. Like build schools, health centers or buy your Cazabon paintings. I’ve already lined up some doubles vendors to help fund the cardiac unit at Mt Hope. Allowing people to indirectly fund their heart attack treatment.

Darryn:                                 Sir some economists say that the budget does nothing to diversify the economy or cure our Dutch Disease. 

Minister Imbert:                 I think I had that. There is a cream for that.

Darryn:                                 No, the Dutch Disease is a term economists use to describe an economy heavily reliant on natural resources.

Minister Imbert:                 Look Darryn. Analysts say oil will go back up next year. Including Yesina Gonslaves. My plan is to ride it out until then.

Darryn:                                 Isn’t that just following the same pattern of boom and bust?

Minister Imbert:                Hey at least we won’t have to waste money drafting a new budget. We can just keep reusing this one over and over. Imagine the savings!

Darryn:                                 I can sir.

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