Wednesday 14 November, 2018

Finance Minister mum on details ahead of Budget 2018/2019

All eyes will be on Finance Minister Colm Imbert as he delivers the 2018/2019 Budget presentation in the House of Representatives at 1:30 pm on Monday.

Imbert, who will be making his fourth budget presentation, is remaining tightlipped.

Speaking with reporters on Sunday after casting his vote in the People’s National Movement internal elections, Imbert said he would not be revealing any details ahead of the much anticipated budget.

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“You all come to ambush me about the budget live, alright go ahead. I’m here for it. I will not reveal anything; you all know that. This is my fourth budget presentation, I am a very confidential person and it’s not the practice. I don’t think any Finance Minister from any political party in the last 60 years who has ever revealed anything about the budget measures on the eve of the budget. And I certainly won’t be doing that, I’m not like that,” Imbert said.

Much of today’s presentation is expected to focus on the closure of Petrotrin’s refinery.

The Finance Minister is expected to provide details on the way forward, as severance packages for some 4700 permanent and non-permanent workers are still being finalised.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said termination packages are currently being negotiated by the Board of Petrotrin and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union. Khan said the severance packages for Petrotrin will cost upwards of $1 billion, a small price to pay, he said, compared to the annual loss at $2 billion.

Former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said on Sunday that the budget presentation is the most anticipated in memory as citizens look forward to hear more on the Petrotrin issue.

“The budget is the most anticipated in memory. Everyone wants to hear the plan for Petrotrin and whether fuel prices will increase. I don’t think there will be a fuel price increase after the large increases of the last three years but who knows,” the former Energy Minister said.

There are also concerns about the continuity of fuel supply following the closure of the refinery, with the Energy Minister revealing there is a 20-day supply once it shuts down.

The Finance Minister is expected to outline plans for the importation of fuel.