Monday 20 May, 2019

Tunapuna Chamber: Crime, forex not addressed in budget review

The Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GTCIC) said Government failed to address three major issues during the mid-year budget review on Thursday. 

In a release following Finance Minister Colm Imbert's address, the GTCIC said the three issues that weren't addressed were the out of control crime situation, ease of doing business, locally, regionally and internationally and the lack of foreign exchange.

"Despite allocation over 200 million dollars to various Ministries, none was set aside for the National Security Ministry. In fact, the Finance Minister made no mention of the crime situation and the domino effect it continues to have on the citizenry of this nation, and how it plagues overall economic growth," the GTCIC said in reference to crime.

"The Honourable Finance Minister held Parliament’s attention for close to an hour. Yet in that period, he failed to mention the shortage of US currency within the financial institutions across the country. The GTCIC is calling on Government to address the forex issue with all due haste. In addition to this, we are also proposing a sanctioned initiative allocating special tax deductions for manufacturers who earn this country valuable foreign exchange," the GTCIC said. 

The organisation said while the Finance Minister has painted a beautiful portrait of Trinidad and Tobago’s booming economy, questions remain over the statistics and figures given by Imbert and it seems to be a painting by numbers.

"The reality on the ground level for the GTCIC, the national business community and the citizens of our country remains dark, made bleaker by the Finance Minister’s inflated optimism," they said. 

The GTCIC acknowledged this administration’s actions to limit public expenditure, stating that by the end of March 2018 the expected figure stood at $21.65 billion, 15 percent lower than initially projected and overall projected deficit for 2018 is $4.2 billion, over $500 million lower than budgeted.

"Waivers on the much-disputed property tax and its retroactive application were also seen as a positive step," the GTCIC said. 

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