PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government on Monday presented a TT$52.49 billion (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) budget to Parliament announcing a slew of measures it said would help revitalise an economy hard hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The government said it spent US$18.1 million on purchasing vaccines to date and that over five billion dollars was allocated for COVID relief. It said that 51 493 grants were given as food and income support to people who lost jobs at a value of TT$221.4 million.
In addition, the budget makes provision for TT$200 million for COVID-19 relief and the sustained vaccination programme will continue into 2022 to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) target of 70 per cent as soon as possible.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in a near four-hour presentation, told legislators that the fiscal package contains “opportunities for all our citizens and in the process ensure success and prosperity.
‘We will consolidate our gains, complete our ongoing projects and … revitalise and transform the economy by implementing our recovery programmes to establish a modernise, competitive and resilient economy aimed at promoting inclusive and sustainable growth,” Imbert said,
He is promising to provide a supportive private sector environment for facilitating entrepreneurship, domestic businesses and foreign investment.
‘We will continue to implement people centered policies. We will continue to invest in digital technology to support every aspect of our economy including the delivery of public services,” the Finance Minister said.
He said he expects real economic activity to contract slightly in 2021 as non-energy is expected to contract same rate as energy sector, by one per cent, but expects a 2.3 per cent pick-up in non-energy sector growth in 2022.
Imbert is also predicting a 13 per cent energy sector growth next year and a return to fiscal surplus in 2023.
Imbert said that the budget had been developed based on oil and gas prices of US$65 a barrel and US$3.75 per 1 000 British thermal units (MMBtu).
“As a result of these assumptions, we anticipate the total revenue for 2022 will be TT$43.33 billion, and in order to maintain our economic momentum, we anticipate that expenditure for 2022 will be TT$52.49 billion. The fiscal deficit will be TT$9.096 billion, just about 5.8 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product),” Imbert said, with the major allocations going to the ministries of education and health.
He said based on these assumptions oil revenue is projected to be TT$12.64 billion, non-oil revenue TT$29.71 billion, with capital revenue pegged at TT$1.006 billion. He said the total expenditure including net of capital repayments, sinking funds contribution will amount to TT$52.49 billion. (CMC)