Top 10 takeaways from budget 2023

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

On Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert read the 2023 budget in Parliament.

Here are some of the main takeaways:

Fuel prices to increase

NEW PRICES

Diesel – $4.41 per litre

Super – $6.97 per litre

Premium – $ 7.75 per litre

Kerosene – $4.41 per litre

No wage negotiations for public-sector workers 

Imbert said the proposed four per cent increase in wages recently offered to public sector workers is the best the government can do.

“The government stands ready to make good on our offer as soon as it is accepted.”

Airfare, ferry fares to increase

One-way flights to/from Tobago will cost $200

Senior citizens can no longer travel free on inter-island ferries and will pay $25 for a one-way ticket

Standard ferry tickets will now cost $50 one way and premium will now cost $150 one way

One-time transport grant

Given the increase in fuel prices, airfare and the inter-island ferry fares, all recipients of social grants will get a one-time transport grant of $1,000.

Personal income tax exemption limit increases

Those earning $7,500 or less a month will no longer have to pay income tax

20,000 healthcare workers to get extra $$

A total of $210 million will be distributed to over 20,000 healthcare workers.

Changes to GATE again

$50 million will be spent on expanding the GATE programme, as well as a structured remedial education programme to help students affected by covid19.

GATE will be available to students, in good standing, enrolled in institutions and accredited programmes if they have completed an initial programme of study including a diploma or associate degree or the N1 level at UWI, and wish to upgrade to a bachelor’s degree.

Technical vocational education and training (TVET) students who have already accessed GATE for lower level TVET qualifications will now qualify for GATE for level four and level five programmes that lead to an advanced diploma or bachelor’s degree.

HDC to benefit from loans, restructure further  

A total of $1.5 billion will be provided to allow the corporation to “refocus on its mandate to construct affordable housing.”

Imbert said $500 million will be used to complete stalled or existing projects, another $500 million to pay debts owed to contractors and suppliers, and $500 million for constructing new housing units.

The HDC will be split into three entities: TT HDC Construction Company, the TT HDC Facilities Management Company Ltd and the TT HDC Asset Management Company Ltd

Tobago gets more $$

Last year, Tobago was allocated $2.357 billion.

This year, it will receive $2.521 billion.

Government to assist reopening of tourism, creative sector

Government will reimburse innovators and entrepreneurs in the sectors with 50 per cent of their investment, up to a maximum of $50,000.

Government has invested $600 million in the hotel industry, with three new hotel brands that will add over 300 rooms to the stock: Comfort Inn and Suites at Orange Hill, Tobago, The Brix Hotel by Marriott and Radisson Blu in Port of Spain, which will open in the second quarter of 2023.