Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2014 Contents news
September 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yes-
terday gave a sneak peek at the national budget
which is expected to be read by Finance Min-
ister Larry Howai tomorrow.
With the budget statement in her hand as
she addressed the Congress of the People s
inter-faith service yesterday in Montrose, Per-
sad-Bissessar announced a new $500-a-month
allocation for babies born to the most vulnerable
families. That allocation will continue for the
first year of the child s life, Persad-Bissessar
said. It takes effect from October.
She also announced that the rainy day Her-
itage and Stabilization Fund would receive a
boost, and spoke of plans to promote the man-
ufacturing sector. The PM said plans for the
manufacturing sector were part of the move
toward diversification of the economy.
Persad-Bissessar also revisited the contentious
Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 which
passed after amendments were made last month.
She said she "did not care" if it spelled political
suicide for her and her Government as long as
she did what was right.
She promised to call the election when it was
constitutionally due next year, warning that it
was not due until September 2015.
While Howai is keeping the final figure for
the 2014-2015 budget close to his chest, he has
revealed that, just like last year, the education
sector will get the biggest slab of the multibil-
In a one-on-one interview with the Sunday
Guardian, Howai said that in tomorrow s budget
presentation, education would receive 12 per
cent of the entire budget figure. Persad-Bissessar
was reported as pegging this year s budget at
"more or less" than $60 billion.
This Government has steadily produced some
of the biggest budgets this country has ever
Last year s budget allocated $9.8 billion to
education, $6.5 billion to national security and
$5 billion to the health sector. Public utilities
were allocated $3.8 billion, while housing received
$2.7 billion and local government $2.4 billion.
Works, which now falls under local government,
received $2.4 billion last year with agriculture
being given the least at $1.3 billion.
National security, which usually takes the
second largest chunk of the budget, is not
expected to receive any major increase in this
2014-2015 budget, leaving it with almost the
same allocation it had last year.
Since Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal
has said his ministry needs $6 billion in allocation
for the next financial year, housing s allocation
could surpass that of national security in the
If Moonilal is granted that massive allocation,
the 2014-2015 budget would see his ministry
doubling its multibillion-dollar allocation in
Last year s budget was calibrated on oil prices
pegged at US$80 per barrel and gas prices esti-
mated at US$2.75 million metric British Thermal
The 2013-2014 budget also pegged T&T s
total revenue at $55.041 billion, with revenue
from oil of $23.374 billion and non-oil revenue
of $32.667 billion.
Howai last year predicted a fiscal deficit of
$6.357 billion or 3.6 per cent of Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), down from the 4.6 per cent in
the 2013 budget.
Tobago last year was expected to receive
$3.309 billion or the equivalent of 5.39 per cent
of the national budget. • See Pages A6 & A7
The deplorable conditions of the
Arima Central Secondary School has
led Education Minister Dr Tim
Gopeesingh to call for an independent
audit of all government secondary
He did so after touring the school and
scolding Arima Central principal Bernice
Davis for the shabby conditions of the
institution, telling her "quiet" in the
presence of ministry officials, parents,
students and the members of the board
as she attempted to explain why the
school looked the way it did.
Gopeesingh insisted that Davis was
not managing the school properly and
was failing in her responsibilities. He
cited a number of issues including over-
grown grass on the playing field, broken
chairs stacked in a corner, dirty tank
stands and unclean floors, which he said
could have been addressed by Davis.
The 52-year-old school receives
$1,050,000 from the ministry annually.
Each secondary school receives between
$1 and $2 million annually.
When Davis said the school s cleaners
were not performing their duties,
Gopeesingh interjected, "You have a
responsibility. That money is given to
manage the school. We are here to get
Gopeesingh told Davis that cleaners
who refused to follow instructions would
face disciplinary action.
The minister then informed his deputy
permanent secretary Simone Thorne-
Moora that he wanted an audit of all
government secondary schools.
Speaking to the media afterwards,
Gopeesingh said under the Education
Act, every school and board were
required to present to him an audited
statement for the previous year.
He said none of the 90 secondary
schools had submitted one, while only
two of 18 school boards had presented
Asked when the audit would begin,
Gopeesingh said, "I have asked for an
audit two years ago as a minister and
unfortunately no permanent secretary
has been able to help me, even though
there is an audit team at the ministry.
So what do I do as a minister when it
is not forthcoming? Do you go on a mas-
sive disciplinary action programme?"
Gopeesingh said he intended to speak
with Thorne-Moora "to see if we can
get an independent audit from outside
by one of these major auditing compa-
nies. We have to go out for tender."
Asked if principals were mismanaging
state funds, Gopeesingh said, "I don t
want to put it as mismanagement, but
possibly they needed to look at their
expenditure from a management per-
spective. They need to do the things that
are urgent and important."
Classes at Arima Central will resume
on Wednesday as the ministry continues
to execute emergency repairs on the
structure which is more than 52 years
old and is in poor condition.
... biggest slice of the pie going to education
Audit for Govt secondary schools
Arima Central principal
Arima Central Secondary School principal Bernice Davis shows a classroom to Education Minister Dr Tim
Gopeesingh during a tour of the school yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Poor babies to get support for a year
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