Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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$400m CAL boost
Despite losing its fuel subsidy in the 2013-2014 budget and being mandated to achieve financial viability, state-owned Caribbean Airlines is still listed in certain budget documents to receive a $400.7 million subsidy from the Government. Finance Minister Larry Howai also confirmed the figure yesterday, saying it was to facilitate the airline’s restructuring process.
During Monday’s budget presentation, Howai had said CAL must move towards the adoption of a financially sound business model for positioning the airline in targeted segments of the global tourism market. Howai said the new CAL board—under Phillip Marshall—had completed the first phase of a revised business plan for the airline to achieve financial viability.
To this end, Howai had said he proposed to discontinue the fuel subsidy which CAL currently enjoys—and had been the cause for much complaint by regional islands in recent months. The subsidy for the Tobago airlift will remain, Howai had said. In his budget presentation, Howai said these factors had been incorporated into the business plan, which he expected to receive from the CAL board by September 17.
He told the public, however, that he had been assured by the CAL board that the removal of the fuel subsidy will not impact on the ticket pricing policy. However, in one of the 11 budget documents—the 2013-2014 draft estimates of recurrent expenditure—under the heading of the Finance Ministry, there is a listing for a transfer of $400,760 million for CAL in 2014 estimates. It is, however, a decrease over the 2013 estimates for the airline, which was $527.3 million.
During a Senate break yesterday, Howai told the T&T Guardian that the $400.7 million was capital for restructuring. Saying it was “an approximate value,” Howai said it was not a final figure and could be changed when he obtained CAL’s final report. He said the report has to be examined by Finance Ministry officials and CAL will also be doing some cost-cutting.
Also included in the Finance Ministry’s estimates is a debt servicing figure of $719 million for CAL. Other figures in the document confirmed the ministry is also still tying up BWIA issues in a handful of areas. The budget document also outlined increases in recurrent expenditure estimates for more than a dozen ministries, including Finance, which had the largest. Its 2014 estimate in this area was $10.5 billion, while the 2013 estimate was $8.9 billion.
The largest decrease in recurrent expenditure in ministries was in the Labour Ministry. The Finance Ministry’s estimates included a 2014 figure of $199.8 million for contracted services. These were listed as analytical services (involving Standards and Poors’ and Moody’s), legal counsel and advisory services, operating cost for its fitness centre, World Bank advisory services, ministry consultants, occupational health and safety matters and “monitoring of radio and TV stations.”
The Finance Ministry’s category in the document showed a 2014 estimate for the GATE fund of $650 million. Cost of the Accident Victims consolidated fund announced in the budget is also $158.2 million within the Finance Ministry. In the Office of the Prime Minister, estimates of recurrent expenditure include remuneration to the chairman and members of commissions of enquiry in the sum of $8 million.
Expenses of the Prime Minister’s establishment are also listed as $24 million and OPM security services, $16 million. Under National Security, recurrent expenditure estimates in 2014 for the Morvant Laventille Initiative is $26 million—a $1.3 million decrease over the 2013 figure. In Education, recurrent expenditure estimates include repayment of a loan and interest regarding the procurement of laptops in 2010 in the sum of $23.1 million.
In Local Government, transfers to regional entities in terms of estimates of 2014 recurrent expenditure are: Port-of-Spain ($221.2 million), San Fernando ($126.9 million), Arima ($76.4 million), Point Fortin ($64.5 million), Chaguanas ($91.4 million), Diego Martin ($92.1 million), San Juan/Laventille ($176.2 million), Tunapuna/Piarco ($188 million), Sangre Grande ($83.5 million), Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo ($114.9 million), Mayaro/Rio Claro ($84.5 million), Siparia ($80 million), Penal-Debe ($72.5 million) and Princes Town ($83.9 million).
Estimates of recurrent expenditure for the Health Ministry’s regional health authorities are: North West ($702.3 million); Eastern ($293.6 million); North Central ($731.6 million) and South West ($773.5 million).
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