Friday 24 May, 2019

Imbert to present mid-year review in Parliament today

All eyes will be on Finance Minister Colm Imbert this afternoon as he delivers the Mid-Year Budget Review in Parliament.

This year’s mid-year review will also see the presentation of a supplemental appropriations bill to allow for the allocation of more money to ministries. The Standing Finance Committee last Wednesday approved a $1.8 billion supplementary appropriation for 18 heads of expenditure, including the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Public Utilities.  

During debate in the Parliament last Friday on a motion brought by the Opposition Imbert said the country experienced three successive quarters of growth, putting the economy on a growth path. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that the economy started showing signs of improvement from the second half of 2017 and is estimated to have returned to growth in 2018.

He also took note of the Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Report released in March which indicated there was recovery in the energy sector in the final quarter of 2018, with a boost to natural gas output expected to persist into 2019 due to production from bpTT’s Angelin and other investments.

However, in a statement just a day later, bpTT said it has had disappointing results from its infill drilling programmes which has had a material impact on its forecasted production in 2020 and 2021. While bpTT said there is no impact to its sanctioned projects Angelin, Cassia Compression and Matapal and exploration and wellwork programmes for this year. There will be challenges to the company’s supply of gas to Train 1 after 2019.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister is expected to address the Dragon gas deal which is currently at a standstill due to the current political situation in Venezuela. Energy Minister Franklin Khan has said that the deal is one that can stand commercial scrutiny and will be completed once things have improved in the South American nation.

As it relates to the fuel subsidy, Imbert assured that there would be no adjustments to the subsidy on diesel fuel, leaving it at its $3.41 per litre cost.  

The Mid-Year Budget review will be presented in Parliament at 1.30 pm today.

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