THE EDITOR: Once again a mid-term budget review is with us. This 2018-2019 review reminds me of the late Lloyd Best’s explanation that budgets should be about allocations to critical areas of the economy to stimulate development.
Between 1972 and 2019, I have seen little with respect to this imperative. On the other hand, what I have witnessed has been much wand-waving and speculation.
As a typical Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert certainly indulged in some wand-waving, while the critics had a field day with their speculation. Be this as it may, I am more concerned with the social and economic realities we face in TT.
We are an open economy which depends on imports for our consumption and production, therefore on exports to pay for imports. Our problem then is that without foreign exchange it is difficult to increase exports and diversify.
To add insult to injury, several key centres for generating foreign exchange have been wiped out or slowed down over the past decades. Perhaps what is worse, there seems no end to this trend.
Other related factors to consider include rising unemployment, crime, falling government income to fuel the budget, and myopia on the part of our citizens to see that the economic dangers which are threatening our society can squeeze the sweetness of living in TT.
Many may talk about diversification to take up the slack but this is more of a long-term process than a short-term venture. As I see it, it will take more than one term of government to respond to this imperative.
One consideration that cannot be excluded is the cleaning up the present Government had to work on before implementing its economic programme. The repercussions of this clean-up will be with us for a long time and as a result will severely impact diversification and budget allocation.
Nonetheless, I look forward to less wand-waving and speculation around the 2019-2020 budget. Above all, I would be elated if only the Government, the Opposition, and relevant stakeholders could find ongoing strategies to educate our people on the dire economic reality which faces us as a nation and how we can collectively address it. Infighting and power grabbing cannot be the long-term answer.
RAYMOND S HACKETT, Curepe