Government wants an additional $3.08 billion to supplement the 2022 Budget.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert has also claimed major improvements in T&T’s economic situation.
Speaking in the Parliament today, Mr. Imbert said instead of a deficit of $4.75 billion at the end of March as expected, Government recorded a surplus of $654 million in the first half of the fiscal year.
He also stated that additional revenue from high oil and gas prices will go towards reducing the budget deficit, making a deposit into the Heritage and Stabilization Fund, paying arrears to utility companies/rent/contractors, negotiating collective agreements with unions, funding road repair and desilting programs and continuing the fuel subsidy, among other things.
Mr. Imbert says based on reserved estimates for oil and gas, T&T can expect to generate between $4.5 and $5 billion in additional revenue.
VAT REFUNDS IN 2022
Mr. Imbert also revealed that Government will increase VAT refunds for the period April to September 2022 at a cost of $1.6 billion.
He says this will help businesses with their cash flow.
Mr. Imbert also presented the following “Good News” regarding the local economy.
- Public Debt – Mr. Imbert said this climbed from $104.7 billion in 2019 to $130.6 billion by end of 2021. He claimed however that the recent positive cash flow meant that Government has not borrowed since December 2021, with Public Debt now at $129.8 billion.
- Overdraft at the Central Bank – Mr. Imbert claimed that with improved cash flows, the overdraft level has dropped from perilous levels and currently stands at just under 50%.
- Debt to GDP Ratio – The Finance Minister claimed that in 2021, this stood at 77%. It now stands at 72%, which he insisted is one of the best in the world.
As for GDP, Mr. Imbert says this bas bounced back from $140 billion in 2020 and now stands at $180 billion in 2022, which he claims is higher than in 2018 and 2019.
OPPOSITION LEADER RESPONDS
Meanwhile, in her response, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar insisted that the economic improvements being seen were not due to Government’s actions.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar also criticized the Government’s request for an additional $3 billion, saying there was nothing included to help the average citizen.