Government’s 2018 revenue-earning thrust should have included placing taxes on sugary drinks and fast foods and decriminalising marijuana to boost tourism, says UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan.
Khan recommended this in his contribution to yesterday’s 2018 Budget debate in Parliament.
He said he’d expected taxes on surgary drinks and fast foods because of T&T’s serious problems with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“Many countries tax sugary drinks and fast foods and put the revenue from that towards their health plans dealing with NCDs. But the sugar lobby in the US and in T&T seem to be untouchables.”
Khan said some T&T children of age five to seven have Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Included among local dietary problems, he added is the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG).
“We should outlaw MSG since it creates food addictions worse than heroin.”
He suggested the Attorney General consider decriminalising small amounts of marijuana for medicinal purposes to aid tourism.
“Colorado and Jamaica have benefitted from this,” he said.
Khan who urged Government to name the Parliament complex after late prime minister Patrick Manning, praised PNM MP Marlene McDonald’s defence of the Budget on Tuesday.
Khan said McDonald had fought “tooth and nail for the PNM” while in Opposition and she’d employed that battle-mode again in her Budget presentation.
“I’m sorry Prime Minister Keith Rowley isn’t here (to hear this) now. But she was chastised and lost her Ministry for something that shouldn’t have happened but she defended the PNM (Tuesday). I wouldn’t have had the heart to do that if it was me.”
“Her contribution shows how to be strong for your party. She could have walked, but she didn’t — what she did was admirable,” he said.
On Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s claim of high local costs for orthopedic equipment, Khan said the former government had also noted deficiences in the process and was changing that system and others.
He congratulated Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s Budget, “since it’s going to propel UNC back into office.”