The 2017/2018 Budget will be presented in the House of Representatives by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on October 2 at 1.30 pm. Imbert made the announcement yesterday in the House and this was supported subsequently by a statement issued from his ministry.
Last week, Imbert promised to make a statement on the Budget date this week. At Thursday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley hinted Imbert could announce the Budget date in the House yesterday. Rowley said the country was now awake to the economic realities which it faced. He said it was nonsense now for certain people to be calling for certain things to be provided, when TT no longer had the means to do so.
Rowley did not comment on speculation the 2017/2018 Budget would be a $35 billion fiscal package. However, he recalled the budget increased steadily from $47 billion in 2010 under the PNM to $63 billion in 2015 under the People’s Partnership. On September 30, 2016, Imbert presented a $53.4 billion budget pegged on an oil price of US$48 per barrel.
The Budget must be passed in the House and Senate by October 31. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to give her reply to the Budget presentation on October 6.
In a response, Persad-Bissessar predicted, “We expect that citizens will face further hardships from this budget. “ She claimed that Imbert would present “a budget of excuses” on October 2.
Persad-Bissessar said Government would say things were hard, without saying how they intended to make things better.
She claimed Government, “will say they have no money, yet because of their incompetence and lack of a plan, they will have to admit that much of the money allocated in the last year was not used and was returned to the Ministry of Finance.” She added, “The budget will blame public servants and boards for their lack of delivery.”
Persad-Bissessar said, to date, no plans, proposals or programmes that would put the economy back on a growth path, generate revenue, or create sustainable jobs, had been articulated.
“The country is reeling from this Government’s inability to manage the country’s affairs,” she said.