Sunday 27 September, 2020

Budget 2020: Citizens can look forward to 'creative' budget

Citizens should expect a budget filled with election goodies when Finance Minister Colm Imbert presents the 2020 Budget in Parliament today.

Sharing the Opposition’s expectations ahead of the budget presentation this afternoon, UNC Chairman David Lee said he is interested to see how the Finance Minister is able to bring about a balanced budget.

Citizens will be waiting to hear whether there will be further removal of the subsidy on fuel. Government has already removed the subsidy on premium gas ($5.75 per litre), while subsidies remain on diesel ($3.41 per litre) and super ($4.97). There is also a subsidy on cooking gas, which is currently sold at $22 per 20 pound cylinder.

While he said the Minister would not have much room to maneuver given that actual revenues were lower than projected than what was expected from the last budget, Lee believes citizens can breathe easy as Government is unlikely to increase taxation or raise fuel prices with elections fast approaching.

"The Finance Minister is a creative man so we look forward to what will be presented especially given that this is an election year."

Lee said as MP for Pointe-a-Pierre, he was hopeful that there would be positive news regarding the sale of the former Petrotrin refinery to the OWTU. He said he was hopeful that the refinery would be restarted soon and his burgesses would be able to find employment there.

Noting that Government’s six game-changers presented in the last budget have not materialised, the UNC Chairman said it remains to be seen whether there will be any update on the status of those projects or six entirely new ones.

"The Dragon gas deal is dead, the Tobago Sandals project fell through. The La Brea Drydock Facility has not materialised," Lee said.

Government's other game-changers presented in the 2018 "turnaround" budget include the success of the National Investment Fund (NIF) bonds, the restructuring of Petrotrin and the purchase of two new fast ferries to service the inter-island sea bridge.

The 2020 Budget will be presented in the Lower House at 1.30 pm.

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