You are here
Howai sees deficit budget for 5 years
T&T’s revenue has declined by $10 billion over the last four years because of the global economic recession, says Finance Minister Larry Howai. He said: “$10 billion is a huge sum, which could make a significant difference in this country if we had it but if you lose $10 billion in income in a short period of time, you have to do something with expenses to bring yourself back in line.
“We recognise we cannot do it right away and we have to phase ourselves in.” Howai pointed out that gas and oil prices during the middle of the last decade were much higher than they were now. He said: “The gas price in the middle of the last decade was US$10 to US$12 per mmbtu (million metric British thermal units) and it is now US$2 per mmbtu and oil in 2008 was US$140 a barrel and now it is about half of what it was then,”
Howai was speaking to Joseph Remy, president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun), at the Ministry of Finance yesterday at a pre-budget consultation. The consultative process with different stakeholders will end on July 31. Howai said there had been four years of budget deficits and he wanted to see a balanced budget in a few years.
He added: “We have run four years of deficits in T&T. I would like to get us back to a balanced budget at some stage. “Within the next three to five years, I would like us to have a balanced budget. It does not mean you cannot be short from time-to-time because there will be years where you have a surplus. “Having run four years of deficit, by the time you hit a seventh year of deficit, it is supposed to be in balance.”
Howai told Remy he wanted to expand the country’s economic pie. “To a large extent, in our discussions, I want to know what are some of the thoughts you may have on increasing revenue,” Howai said, “because if we increase revenue, we can better meet the needs we have.” Remy told Howai that Fitun had made “critical submissions” in the last two fiscal years but none was translated into action.
“Implementation is a curse word in T&T. We have all these grandiose plans but the problem is implementation,” Remy said. Michael Annisette, president of the National Trade Union Centre (Natuc), in an earlier meeting with Howai, brought up the issues of need for economic growth, productivity and settling of outstanding wage negotiations.
Watson Duke, president of the Public Services Association, also met Howai and also brought up the issue of settling outstanding wage negotiations. Annisette said after the meeting: “How do we grow the gross domestic product? And we expressed our views in the context of using the domestic economy to kick start things. “We also raised the issue of youth unemployment. We raised the issue of the Port of Port-of-Spain and the need to relocate it. We believe that at that location, it has outgrown its usefulness.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.