Busy week for Parliament

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Red House. File photo/Jeff Mayers

PARLIAMENTARIANS will be busy with three major activities taking place at the Red House in Port of Spain this week.

On Wednesday at 10.30 am, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is scheduled to meet with members of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). Details are still to be announced.

The PAC is chaired by Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo.

Opposition Senator Jearlean John, the PAC’s deputy chairman, is expected to chair this meeting, as Tancoo is overseas.

The House of Representatives sits on the same day at 1.30 pm. The main item on the agenda is the Mid-Year Review of the 2022/2023 budget, the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2023) Bill, 2023.

Before Finance Minister Colm Imbert begins the debate on this bill, he will move a motion that calls on the House to adopt the second report of its Standing Finance Committee, which met on May 5 to consider proposals for the supplementation and variation of appropriation for the fiscal year 2023.

The committee approved a total of $3.8 billion in additional funding for 22 government ministries to continue operations until the end of the current fiscal year in September.

During a virtual news conference on March 27, Imbert did not give specific details of the contents of the Mid-Year Review. The conference was held to discuss the concluding statement of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Article IV mission to TT, which was released on March 16.

In its concluding statement, the IMF welcomed Government’s decision to “partially liberalize fuel prices as it will improve the efficiency and the sustainability of the public accounts.” The IMF also said it was important for Government “to continue providing targeted and temporary support to alleviate the rising living costs among the most vulnerable.”

Imbert said the assessments made by the IMF are not necessarily a hint as to what is to come.

“It is not everything. The Mid-Year Review will be far more focused.”

He identified income and expenditure, economic trends, TT’s fiscal outlook and other matters such as the establishment of the TT Revenue Authority as some issues which may be raised in the review.

Imbert advised the population to wait for the review for information on these and other matters.

Asked specifically at that time about any further adjustments to fuel prices, Imbert said, “One has to look at them over a suitable period of time. You could be at US$100 (per barrel) today and next week, you could be at US$75 (per barrel).

“We are monitoring the price of oil to see how it affects the fuel subsidy and we will make an appropriate decision at an appropriate time.”

The current fuel prices are $7.75, $6.97 and $4,41 per litre for premium gasoline, super gasoline and diesel respectively.

The Senate will sit on Friday from 1.30 pm. The main item it will deal with is the debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Trial By Judge Alone) Bill, 2023.