The Supermarket Association hopes the 2023 Budget includes provisions to deal with crime and food security, while the Progressive Empowerment Party hopes there’s sufficient attention in the Budget to properly secure T&T’s ports against drug and illegal firearms entry.
Those were some of the views of various groups ahead of next Monday’s 2023 Budget presentation. The Budget will be presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the Parliament.
SATT president Rajiv Diptee said, “The big-ticket item now is crime, which has particularly been underscored after the recent attack at Pennywise, La Romain. All SATT members are concerned, especially about brazen daylight attacks and the type of weapons we see being used. The fear factor will also be high among workers and shoppers.
“We hope the firearm users’ licence process is expedited. We had a meeting with the acting Police Commissioner, who assured FULs are being issued to people who meet the criteria,” said Diptee.
He also said T&T’s cost of living and inflation require priority attention in the Budget.
“We hope some of T&T’s increased oil revenue goes to public servants and especially to follow up initiatives to the successful Agri Investment Forum. The Caribbean SATT was formed to augment Government’s work on food security after Caricom’s bid to cut food import bills by 25 per cent by 2025,” he added.
If Government’s fuel subsidy is capped at $1 billion, Diptee said it could mean fuel price hikes at some point.
PEP leader Phillip Alexander added, “The most important thing where budgets are concerned is accounting for what was done with last year’s allocations, and more specific details of next year’s allocations. I’d like to see the approximate $60 billion we spend annually better utilised. We need to get lean. I’d cancel unnecessary private sector contracts such as prisoner transport and make the investment to build courtrooms either in or alongside jails.
“Ensure allocation to secure T&T’s ports to end drug and illegal firearms entry - essential to governance going forward. I’d also cancel the private ambulance contract and return all fire stations to emergency response stations for paramedics, fire and other emergencies,” he said.
Alexander advocated for the creation of licenses to trade in high volume produce to protect against praedial larceny, “as well as to make water available to farmers to increase food production.”
He said exorbitant fees charged by banks should be reined in and the Central Bank given the responsibility to set deposit and credit interest rates.
“Education should be moved fully to the cloud with Smart Boards in classes and tablets for the children. This alone can save billions, protect the environment, save children having to labour under books, and standardise the curriculum.”