Chamber: Optimistic budget but fuel price increase worrying

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Cars lined up at the St Christopher’s Gas Station on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain on Monday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

While the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce described the 2022-2023 budget as an optimistic one, it expressed concern over the effect the increase in fuel prices would have on the economy.

It said it understood the need to limit the fuel subsidy, but was “concerned about the impact that this will have on inflation and the population at this time.”

The finance minister announced a cap in the fuel subsidy, which resulted in a $1-per-litre increase in the price of super and premium gasoline and a 50-cent increase in diesel. The new prices for fuel are now $7.75 a litre for premium gasoline, $6.97 a litre for super gasoline, and $4.41 a litre for diesel.

The chamber highlighted some positives coming out of the budget, including a reduction in the deficit from $9 billion in 2022 to $2 billion at the start of financial year 2023. The reduction came out of a windfall due to an increase in prices in petrochemicals and hydrocarbons because of the Russia-Ukraine war.

It also welcomed the investment in agriculture, but questioned what exactly would be done for the sector.

The chamber also lauded the government for reiterating its intention to support SMEs.

“This is critical for the growth of the economy, as MSMEs account for a major portion of the private sector and the chamber welcomes the new long-term loan guarantee programme.”

The chamber also said it looks forward to the full operationalisation of the TT Revenue Authority, saying it would allow for fair and efficient revenue collection.