BOTH Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Housing Minister Pennelope Beckles said they were pleased with allocations for their respective ministries in the 2020/2021 national budget.
The ministers spoke with Newsday on Wednesday after the Housing Ministry’s Housing and Village Improvement Programme north distribution ceremony at the Mt Hope/Mt Lambert Community Centre in San Juan.
Health received the second highest allocation in the budget at $6.05 billion after education and training with $7.973 billion. This was $34 million less than the allocation for fiscal 2020, though at that point health was third after education and national security.
Deyalsingh said he got basically the same allocation as last year with no significant cut as the $34 million was just 0.5 per cent of $6 billion.
"So it's a negligible amount."
He added: "So I am quite pleased that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister saw the importance of health, especially now with covid we are basically running two parallel systems at the same time. Both are going extremely well and I feel confident that my allocation of $6.05 billion will go a long, long way."
He said the ministry should be able to do everything they need to do with the allocation, and if more funding is required a request can be made from the Finance Ministry for the mid-year review in March.
"I have absolutely no fears that health remains a priority."
Of the eight major areas in the budget, housing was the lowest at $1 billion, a small decrease from the $1.007 billion in fiscal 2020. Housing also swapped places with agriculture compared to the previous budget. Beckles told Newsday she was satisfied with the allocation.
"Housing is a very important ministry. It is a ministry that impacts on many people in TT."
She said for Government's plan to build 25,000 in ten years it would require a lot of work, dedication, cooperation and "getting things right." She added that as minister one has to understand their ministry and its challenges, including ensuring there is the land and the contractors are well trained and will deliver quality houses.
"You have to work towards building affordable housing and dealing with the issue of quality housing so the citizens can be comfortable that when you deliver that product they are happy they have gotten a house they can move into, and you minimise the complaints and the challenges that exist."
She noted Government was seeking to encourage the private sector to build housing via various concessions. She added, however, it must be ensured the process is not just transparent but the challenges both private and public sector traditionally complain about are minimised.