San Juan Business Association concerned about budget projections

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm Imbert with Energy Minister Stuart Young and Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga leave parliament after the budget reading on Monday. Photo by Sureash Cholai

The San Juan Business Association says it is concerned about the projected oil price of US$92.50 used to calculate government revenues for the 2023 fiscal year. It said the government needed to be careful not to overstretch the revenue projection.

In a release, the association said it welcomed several measures announced in the budget. These included a reduction in the deficit from US$9.1 billion to US$1.51 billion, an increase in personal tax allowance by $6,000 which would aid citizens and counteract inflationary pressures, allocations for increased road rehabilitation, a 14 per cent increase in local government budgetary allocation, a seven per cent increase in the allocation to the Works and Transport Ministry, a 59 per cent increase in the Housing Ministry allocation and a boost to the construction sector through new housing projects, a tax amnesty on interest and penalties on interest and penalties, and the US$166 million deposit in the HSF.

The association said it was concerned about the two per cent increase in the National Security allocation.

“Crime is out of hand and we would have liked to see a greater commitment in the form of investment in training and CCTV infrastructure nationally. We are not particularly pleased with the increase in fuel prices at this time as we have been warned by the IMF to manage inflation. The knock-on effect of this will lead to increased prices to consumers.”

It said no commitment had been made to deal with the informal sector for the National Insurance Scheme.

“This sector of the economy is continuously being ignored. We also believe increasing the VAT threshold can be counterproductive from the point that the strategy should be to capture more of the informal sector. We need to pay attention to this issue. In an effort to bolster exports for TT, the international certification programme should go across all industries and not only food and beverage.”