Trinidad’s Finance Minister presents $61.3B National Budget

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Trinidad and Tobbago's Finance Minister, Larry Howai
Trinidad and Tobbago’s Finance Minister, Larry Howai

[CTNT World.com] – Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Larry Howai has presented a $61.3 billion budget for 2013-2014.

As expected, Education received the largest amount in this year’s budget which was entitled “Sustaining Growth, Securing Prosperity.”

Education got the biggest slice at $9.8 billion, the same as last year.

National Security got the second biggest share of $6.5 billion, an almost $1 billion increase from last year.

Additionally, $5 billion went to Health, $3.8 billion to Public Utilities, $2.7 billion to Housing while Local Government and Works and Infrastructure each received $2.4 billion, Transport got $2.3 billion, and the smallest slice of $1.3 billion went to Agriculture.

With the budget based on an oil price of US$80 a barrel and a gas price of US$2.75 per MMBTU, the Finance Minister hoped to earn revenue of $55 billion.

This would result in a projected fiscal deficit of $6.3 billion – which translates into 3.6% of GDP, down from the 4.6% last year.

“I have ensured that our expenditure profile not only reflects prudence, but also maintains a public socio-economic agenda of this administration. In addition to promoting increased employment and investment, I have increased our capital programme by over $500 million in this fiscal year, bringing the total amount to $8 billion, or 4.5% of GDP, the largest in our nation’s history.”

Minister Howai assured that the country is moving towards a return to balanced budgets while keeping the debt burden within sustainable levels.

However, he said the non-energy GDP has been expanding at a moderate pace, but the Minister said he is taking steps on two broad fronts.

“We are ensuring that the framework conditions remain conducive for generating growth and development. At the heart of this policy is a pursuit of low and stable rates of inflation and interest rates as well as a stable exchange rate. Second, we are ensuring that as far as possible, the recovery takes root and secures enormous gains by generating new and broader sources of growth.”

According to Minister Howai, investment is required and as such, he has put in place a growth-oriented tax system and measures to improve the efficiency of the regulatory framework with the hope of increasing investment and creating new sources of growth.

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