The Board of Inland Revenue is working out issues concerning Petrotrin workers’ severance benefits, including how much tax will apply to a payment and this is “taking a while,” says Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West.
She clarified the situation in the Senate yesterday in response to Opposition queries.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan said all workers in Petrotrin have been paid “... including the 1,1,29 non-permanent workers who qualify for ex-gratia payments.”
Khan said Cabinet had approved the $500,000 limit on severance benefits to be tax-free, as the Prime Minister recently promised it would be. Khan said this will be effected later on “as the taxes were placed in an escrow account on behalf of the employees and they had to get clearance from the BIR.”
West said legislation will be required to effect the severance concession and Government will come to Parliament shortly to do this via a Finance Act. She said there are a couple issues which the BIR is dealing with in terms of how much tax will be applied on each payment.
“That’s taking a while. One issue is whether the payment qualifies for exemption at all and if so, how much,” West told the House.
“What the company has done is paid the individual net of taxes and adjustment will be made as they get signs from the Board on how much taxes are actually due.”
Also replying to queries, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said he was given information that the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Office is “close” to the conclusion of the probe on Clico’s 2009 financial demise. He said nobody was charged but the timeframe for the conclusion of the probe was with the DPP.
Also, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said following the recent fire at the People’s Mall in Port-of-Spain, City Corporation officials met with the mall management team who agreed to have a booth and other measures to ensure vendors and customers’ safety. He said the fire was the second at that site this year and the third in recent years.
Both parties agreed the mall vendors would set up tents at a parking lot to continue Christmas sales while the long-term situation would be developed later on. He said other mall vendors subsequently told the corporation the mall management team wasn’t the appropriate representative of their interests. The corporation meets next Monday with all vendors on the issue.