Sinanan, De Freitas praise Mid Year Review

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan. File photo/Jeff Mayers

WORKS and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Nigel De Freitas said the population can be pleased with what Government has offered them in the Mid-Year Budget Review.

They made these comments in their respective contributions to debate on the Variation of Appropriation. (Financial Year 2022) Bill, 2022, in the Senate on Friday. The Senate passed the bill, which is referred to as the Mid-Year Budget Review, on the same day. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives on Monday.

In presenting the bill in the House on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that Trinidad and Tobago achieved a surplus of $1.98 billion at the end of April, instead of a projected deficit of $5.7 billion.

The increase in government revenue for the first six months of this year was attributed to higher than expected receipts of taxes, incomes and profits; taxes on goods and services; taxes from international trade, other taxes; increases in the unemployment fund and increases in green fund receipts of $3.2 billion, $17.8 million, $22 million, $15 million, $122 million and $207 million.

Imbert said Government will do several things these additional revenues. This included paying arrears owed to the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), TT Electricity Commission (T&TEC) and Telecommunications Services of TT (TSTT) and increased wages for public servants, once agreement is achieved between the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and the respective trade unions.

Sinanan said, “This Government continues to deliver on its mandate despite stringent financial times, in the development of this beloved country.” An allocation of $11 million to the ministry’s highways division will help it to complete some 97 projects under the division’s purview will be completed in fiscal 2022.

The ministry’s drainage division received $10 million through the bill, to continue its de-silting programme. Sinanan said this programme has been pursued vigorously over the last two years, to reduce flooding in the rainy season.

“This year we would have projected to do 417 projects. To date, we have completed 217 and this additional funding would help us to move that figure up closer to the 417 projects that we have earmarked.”

Later in the sitting, Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh said the area he lives in Valsayn has been prone to flooding. He noticed flooding there being reduced in recent times and hoped the ministry’s de-silting works would continue.

De Freitas praised the Prime Minister and Imbert for the astute management of the economy. He opined that the Opposition and other naysayers did not understand this. Referring to a comment made earlier in the debate by Opposition Senator Wade Mark that compared the additional revenue to a bag of money found on the ground, De Freitas said, “They (UNC) like to spend other people’s money.”

He added it was right for Government to use some of this revenue to pay some outstanding bills and invest the remainder to help the population.