Last update: 05-Dec-2013 12:18 pm
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Howai: Govt will win war on crime
The abuse of businesses and financial institutions for the purpose of money laundering and financing of terrorism has an adverse effect on the economy and the wider society, says Finance Minister Larry Howai. Speaking in yesterday’s 2013 budget debate in the Senate, Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, Howai said the Government’s fight against crime must include continuing to move on money laundering and similar white-collar crimes.
Howai said T&T had gained recognition in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism issue with its adoption of Financial Intelligence Unit structures. He said the Government has adopted a zero-tolerance policy that no effort will be spared to arrest the culture of criminality. Howai said the Government was addressing the crime scourge via short-, medium- and long-term plans and has increased the 2014 national security allocation to $6.5 billion, up from $5 billion. “We will win the war on crime,” he added.
Howai said the gambling and gaming industry had the potential to fuel crime and other social ills and the Government was dealing with this via a governance structure including a governing body and upcoming law. A participatory approach is being used to regulate the industry via interim measures in the budget, he said. Opposition senator Lester Henry, who described the budget as “a eat-ah-food madness,” added, “This UNC cabal really know how to spend.”
While saying the Government’s policy of giving some incentives was not necessarily wrong, he said it should state the net effect on the economy. He repeated a call by former Central Bank governor Ewart Williams at a recent UWI budget workshop which Henry attended: that Government should account for revenues forgone in various areas.
Henry also called for “serious” revenue-earning projects. Admitting he had not seen the IMF’s latest report, he asked nevertheless whether the IMF had expressed concern about achieving a balanced budget by 2016 and “poor governance” affecting the economy. Accusing WASA of being the “biggest feeding frenzy,” Henry claimed WASA had not met its target of 1,200 employees accepting Voluntary Separation of Employment packages (VSEP). Water Resources Minister Ganga Singh said 750 had taken VSEP.
Henry’s repeated accusations of “corruption, corruption” levelled at the Government were answered with equal fervour by government senator Gerald Hadeed who declared, “Allegation, allegation.” The budget debate will end in the Senate Monday, government officials said.
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