The Budget and FATCA

This week will be an interesting week, as our country has two game-changing events taking place simultaneously on the same day. The first is the fiscal budget of the year 2017. This budget is an interesting one as some have indicated that the government is using less money than the previous. It will outline taxes, their financial strategy and the allocation of finances to the various sectors of the economy. Media sources already indicated that gas prices will increase and once increased the prices of everything increases. We shall have new information regarding new taxes such as the online tax to curb the outflow of foreign exchange the country has. The implementation of old taxes such as the property tax would begin January 2017. Products that has vice attached to it such as gambling, cigarettes and alcohol will have a price increase or will be taxed as the case with gambling.

 

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FATCA and the upcoming Fiscal Budget 2017 will soon be affecting the purchasing power of your dollars!

 

The other event is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) legislation that must be passed on that day. If delayed or ignored, at best, performing online or USD transactions will cost 30% more. At worst, the US banks that facilitate these transactions can cut off Trinidad and Tobago starting a financial crisis. It will be utter madness to pay banking fees for foreign exchange transactions + new online tax fees + (at best scenario) 30% withholding fee because the politics of the day did not see the far-reaching effects of FATCA.

I am humbly suggesting dear readers, to perform the following in the event of a financial crisis that could happen if one is implemented (budget) and one is not (FATCA):

  • Withdraw at least $1,000.00TTD from the bank as a safety precaution. In times of financial crisis, banks have the tendency to seize money of account holders to protect itself.
  • Purchase all your essentials before the 30th, as the budget will certainly increase all prices of goods and services.

Protect yourself from the harshness of budgetary measures or the mishandling of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

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Having Perspective

Over the past several months, I have been speaking to my co-workers, friends, allies and a few strangers about the financial situation internationally and how it is affecting us in our country. Seventy percent of them displayed verbal and physical signs that they would prefer complacency and willful ignorance of the problem. Twenty-six percent of them agreed that something was wrong but are taking no proper actions against it. The rest agree and are taking the steps to defend themselves. If you live in the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago, let us take the time to understand what may lie ahead.

A fuel hike to reduce the gas subsidy bill the government pays – The price of all goods and services will be increased (food, transportation, clothing, bills you pay, etc.) Bad driving habits, driving long distances and having a bad view of a car will cost you in the long run.

 

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Online Tax will be nice to some of the local businesspeople who love to “make a killing” with their prices

 

Implementation of an Online Shopping Tax – Seeing this will affect all of us it means that prices of most goods and services will increase again (as we do not manufacture most of the goods we crave for). If you want something different, fancy or just not located in Trinidad and Tobago, you will have to pay more to import it.

Implementation of Property tax – Depending on where you live, it will cost you more and rent may rise as a result.

Luxury taxes, especially on alcohol and cigarettes, will increase – The cost of hanging out, parties, fetes and carnival will increase. The people you associate with and your core views on “what makes a hangout/celebration excellent” will determine how much this affects you.

 

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Surely someone in our country is going to die because of this

 

Taxation on casinos and gambling machines – cost more to gamble. This tax may increase illegal gambling facilities and murder rate (when the gambling goes sour)

Increases in NIS taxes – less take home pay to survive.

With these things looming in the air, do you still think that we should sit and do nothing about it? Do you think these things will be “going away” anytime soon? Is investing in bitcoin and other assets still a bad idea? Lastly, what are you doing to protect yourself from the problems that exist and will be created when these things are implemented? Take wise action, for it is you in your older years and your children that will suffer or benefit as a result!

Sources

http://www.cnc3.co.tt/press-release/more-taxes-2017-budget

http://www.finance.gov.tt/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016-Mid-year-Budget-Review.pdf

http://www.nibtt.net/Downloads/downloas_2016/Rates.pdf

Love them Spreads

A breakfast favourite for friends, allies and co-workers of mine is the infamous bread and butter. How can one like cold (or warm) fermented processed milk on yeast and flour is beyond me. There are many delightful spreads on can choose such as peanut butter, fruit spreads and even Nutella. They are wonderful in taste and aid toward building a happy mood. Sadly, this spread you have read about before cannot be consumed nor is it pleasant to the average citizen. The central bank is the governor of this spread and distributes its produce to the populace by consumer banks.

 

Central Bank Spread

The Bid\Buying price and Ask\Selling price and the difference between them called the spread.

 

While a normal citizen cannot purchase foreign exchange by the central bank, you can see clearly the policy it has set for the commercial banks that do sell to citizens. The spread can change, literally, overnight without warning as explicitly stated by all commercial banks. The spread is especially ridiculous for the Pound and Euro, even though they have lost value over the years due to their money printing programs.

FCB Spread

With FCB you lose $1.1123 TTD for every physical Great Britain pound you want to convert. It may not seem like much, however, try converting £10.00 or £100.00 to TTD….

Royal Bank Spread

With Royal Bank, for every Euro you wish to convert to TTD you lose $0.7305. Almost seventy-five cents is lost for every Euro converted! Isn’t that wonderful?

Those who choose to purchase cash or perform physical-to-digital conversion will be at a greater loss than a digital-to-digital one (transferring TTD from your bank account to your debit\credit master cards). Why is the ask\selling price obscenely higher than the bid\buying price for cash especially Euros and Pounds? If we have a shortage of US dollars in our country, why is this obscene spread not seen in the US dollar instead? Sadly, this is one spread that most humans deal with worldwide but least understood by the masses. With knowledge and discipline, we shall know how to use this type of spread to our advantage.

The BMI Report – Bad News Ahead

In the light of how economies really function, I do share the sentiment of the BMI risk report of our country. The review had little hope for us in the short to mid-term. At the time of this post, the oil price continues to fluctuate below the $50.00 USD a barrel mark the finance minister has set for Trinidad and Tobago.

BMI

When the credit rating agency Fitch speaks wise people listen, do their own research and take action.

Their views are:

  • Low oil prices = less revenue for us
  • Non-oil industries will make little sense investing in thus further reducing our capacity to produce overall
  • The government will make minor cutbacks on how they spend revenue. This does not significantly decrease our debt (we, the people, still have to pay it off so expect either new taxes, tax increases or less in our social programs…”GATE” anyone?)
  • As less foreign exchange enters our country the central bank will use capital controls to prevent a significant depreciation of our dollar, however, they will gradually allow it to happen (as they have done earlier this year)

This is what may happen to us if our oil price remains low for a long period:

Grid-Lock

If there were ever a time for the people of Trinidad & Tobago to change course, it would be now. We cannot depend always on the government to “take care of us.” Do you really want the revenues from oil and carnival to determine whether you and your family eat fine food or not? When and where you should go? How many things/services you can buy online? Financial education (sadly not taught in schools) will give us wisdom to protect us from inflation and financial manipulation that has been going even before your grandfather was a thought.

If you want a copy of the summary report you can download it here.

The Broken Financial System

What if I told you that thieves were stealing your belongings in your house right now? And what if I told you I could display undeniable evidence  …  solid proof?  What would your response be? Would it not create a cause of concern within your heart and mind? Yet our financial systems perform this unjust action every day and we calmly accept it. Central banks world over, have been key in crafting the framework that allows the system to rob us with a smile!!

On May 2016, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago released a notification on its foreign exchange policy page which has some disturbing implications.

Central Bank Warning 1

If you have foreign currency and you engage in an exchange for our local dollars falls under “buying” and “selling” which is illegal, unless, it is an  authorised dealer! Let’s see who are these authorised dealers:

Central Bank Warning 2

Twelve wonderful institutions that love to give you so much less for more. They repeat the warning in detail this time.

Central Bank Warning 4

Notice in this version they added gold to it. Is there something that the central bank can see that we the citizens cannot? Take a look at the consequences below:

Central Bank Warning 4

In lay man’s terms, if you engage in “illicit”  foreign exchange transactions on any scale  you will receive a fine and two to five years in jail. You can also lose anything that the court deems valuable when convicted.  Let us take some time to recap what this document is about.

1) You can only buy, sell, borrow or lend foreign currency or gold (I would also put precious metals in this) through these legalised larcenous institutions (banks).

2) Any human (except those with “legal” authority) if charged or convicted must pay a fine and receive jail time, no exceptions!

3) The court if sees fit, they will confiscate your currency, securities, gold/precious metals, goods or anything they deem beneficial to them.

You may be saying to yourself “Why are you so critical of the banks and financial agencies”? This, my dear readers, is just the surface of the deception that these financial institutions perform in our faces. We must be sober and vigilant of our financial circumstances we are in. Only an informed public can change and even stop what the system is doing to us and our future generations.

Emancipate My Money

Today we celebrate in our twin island state of Trinidad & Tobago Emancipation Day! The day the slaves in our country were freed from slavery.  I am sure most are elated that it is a holiday and some truly appreciate what the day means. There is, however, a struggle that exists in the public sector regarding the “emancipation” of money promised to them by the government. Unlike my family, co-workers and peers, I fully understand why the government is responding the way it is. Nevertheless, I will share three reasons why I want the emancipation of my dues:

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Fiat Currency of Trinidad and Tobago

1) Fiat currency (paper money) is losing value every year.

A simple Google search about the history of Fiat currency will enlighten you on how worthless it is in the long run. Think about it, how many sweets you could have bought for one dollar from 1990 – 2008? How much can you buy now? How much you think you can buy in 2020? Although I just used candy as an example can you imagine what prices of more important things such as food, clothing and housing are going to be in the future?

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Oil price

2) Crude Oil Price.

This is the resource we depend upon to give us the majority of our revenue and foreign exchange. Low oil price means less revenue in general and some policies that will not be in our favour. I am sure our finance minister is kissing the feet of and making pacts with creditors to whom, we, the worker, will have to pay back (more on that another time).

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Gold and Bitcoin to name a few

3) The prices of real assets are going up.

Have you taken a look at the price of gold within the last 8 months? How about the last 16 years? If you are stunned by what you see, then even you should realise the future potential of such an asset class. While Bitcoin is taking a monetary hit, rest assured, it will  regain strength in the coming months and reach levels that are quite stunning for a currency that’s “the new kid on the block”.

In the coming days, weeks, months ahead, I will show you what is really happening and how you can protect yourself and even prosper in these very weird times indeed. Be truly emancipated, my dear readers!