Thursday 5 December, 2019

Budget 2020: Highlights of $53.036B election budget

Finance Minister Colm Imbert has presented the budget for fiscal 2020 in the Parliament. 

The Minister assured that efforts are underway to address the deficit of $5.2 billion or 3.1 percent of the country's GDP.

"All available options for financing the fiscal deficit are being explored with our preferred source being the availability of non-debt creating financing," Imbert said. 

The Minister proposed a number of incentives covering the labour, social services, crime, and the environment sectors.

Check out the highlights below:

Labour: 

Minimum wage to be increased from $15 per hour to $17.50 per hour, effective December 1. 

Government has proposed to increase wages for URP and CEPEP workers and contractors by 15 percent, effective from December 1.

Crime:

Government has made available 250 new firearms and 250 stab vests for prison officers. Social Service associations will be given land to create their own wellness facilities.

Tracking systems are being procured for the TTPS including 200 tablets for vehicles, 50 dashboard cams, and 300 body cams, surveillance systems and drones, polygraph equipment, drug testing equipment for officers and more.

Housing: 

Government has been able to reduce the cost per square foot for housing units from $1,200 psf in 2011-2015 to approximately $600 at present. The cost will be reduced further in the future. There are now approximately 175,000 applicants awaiting housing.

Transport: 

25 additional buses will be on the roads by December 2019. These buses will be accessible to disabled persons and will be powered by CNG. Government is putting in place a procurement framework to acquire an additional 300 buses, most of them accessible to disabled persons.

By 2020 government will enact a secure vehicle monitoring system from March 2020. 

A parking meter system is also being set up in Port of Spain and San Fernando. These implementations will be supported through legislation which will be proclaimed in December 2019.

Property tax:

Trained assessors are now in the field and close to 60,000 valuation forms have been received so far. The Finance Ministry is working to obtain the required data from 200,000 households (50 percent) and additional field assessors have been recruited.

Agriculture: 

Imbert has proposed the removal of all taxes and duties on all inputs and resources for farmers as well as processing for local goods.

Environment:

Government has proposed eliminating the use of styrofoam and single-use plastics. Imbert proposed the ban on importation of styrofoam for the food industry and for local manufacturers to use additives to make them biodegradable.

Further, he has proposed to terminate the use of plastic water bottles in government offices and substitute them with water coolers, effective January 1, 2020.

Social Services: 

Imbert said women and children continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups and there is a lack of daycare facilities. He proposes to introduce daycare centres to cater for children under 3 years old. 

Government is proposing a shelter for homeless women which will be established by the HDC with the support from the business community in 'specific geographical locations'. Women will be placed, after completing a comprehensive assessment, on a 3-12 month basis. The shelter is intended to provide temporary relief to women who are homeless.

Pensions are being delivered to 103,457 senior citizens. Pensions received range from $500 to $3,500. The average expenditure in 2019 was $3.9B.

Travel: 

Imbert has proposed to increase airport allowance for personal goods from $3,000 to $5,000 from January 1, 2020. He also proposed to eliminate arrival forms at the country's airports. This is expected to be implemented in 2020. 

Tobago:

Discussions are in an advanced stage for CAF funding at US$16 million (over TT$100M) to the THA for urgent coastal infrastructure programmes to mitigate coastal erosion, rising sea level and related climate-change issues. 

 

The key figures are as follows: 

Total Revenue $47.749 B (Based on US $60 per barrel, $3 MMBTU Oil Price)

Expenditure $53.036 B

National Security $6.44 B

Education & Training $7.548 B

Health $6.084 B

Works and Transport $2.956 B 

Public Utilities $3.047 B

Rural Development and Local Government $2.469 B

Housing $1.007 B 

Agriculture $0.708 B

Tobago: $2.283 B 

Meanwhile, Government has projected:

Oil revenue: $11.004 B

Non-oil revenue: $35.795 B

Capital Revenue: $0.95 B

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: