Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 14th 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Independent Senator Ian Roach
has called on Finance Minister
Larry Howai to say whether the
Government intends to extract
money from its Heritage and Sta-
bilisation Fund (HSF) during the
current oil and gas crisis.
He was contributing to the debate
on the Finance (Supplementation
and Variation of Appropriation)
(Financial Year 2014) Bill, 2015 and
the Finance Bill 2015.
The fund stood at US$5.56 billion
"The matter of the Heritage and
Stabilisation Fund is of concern to
this country," said Roach.
"How is it going to be used during
this time?" he asked.
He said some indication from the
Minister of Finance Larry Howai
would be appreciated.
"He needs to tell the country what
is the Government s intention to
extract from the fund during this
time," he added.
He said while the fund was estab-
lished precisely for that type of sit-
uation he had concerns after reading
"What is required from the Min-
ister of Finance is to articulate, for
the point of public edification,
whether or not the circumstances
that exist now for this current energy
crisis require the Government or
entitle the Government to access
"If so, spell out carefully in what
terms and how it would deal with
withdrawals and such," he added.
He said the fund was set up for
"rainy days" and felt the act should
"We have before us the largest
budget passed since 2010. It just
seems too high. Now the oil prices
have dropped and the rug has
metaphorically been pulled from
under us," he noted.
Roach said the Government need-
ed to deal urgently with the technical
issues of adjustment, starting with
the critical and pragmatic review of
the budget allocations.
"So far the Government has not
clearly stated its position, vis-a-vis
what items and from what ministries
it is prepared to make rational adjust-
"My urging does not mean to
panic but to act decisively and
responsibly in keeping with the Gov-
ernment mantra that it is a caring
Government working in the interest
of the people.
"That is what every Government
ought to do, act in the people s best
interest at all times, good and dif-
ficult alike," he added.
Roach said he recognised that
there was no quick fix to this sit-
"Government has hard choices to
make to reliably address this situ-
"Some of the hard choices may
well have a bearing on Government s
re-election ambition but if the coun-
try s welfare comes first this should
not be a deterrent," he said.
T&T s economy during last year
remained on a fairly robust path but
the energy sector witnessed some
challenges as it contracted by about
1.7 per cent.
So said Finance Minister Larry
Howai during yesterday s sitting of
"The non-energy sector continued
to grow fairly robust. We have 2.8
per cent growth in the non-energy
sector overall, following on a three-
and-a-half per cent growth in 2013
and a 1.8 per cent in 2012.
Regarding the debt to the GDP the
Finance Minister said at the end of
the year it stood around 43.6 per
"We expect it to go up again this
year as a result of increased borrow-
ings we will probably do during the
course of this year in order to maintain
our cash position.
"Deposits in the banking system
have grown from $74 billion in 2010
to currently just over $100 billion
currently, representing an increase in
wealth generally," Howai added.
Remaining optimistic about T&T s
economy, he said based on the bal-
ances of the Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund, the foreign exchange reserve
and a "reasonably good" current
account flows have resulted in a stable
outlook for the economy.
On the drop in the price of oil
Howai said: "Our expectation is that
the price of oil and gas will probably
be a little bit better than the SU$45
we are assuming for the remainder
of this year on an average.
"The feedback we have from all of
the rating agencies from various fore-
casting firms is while there is an
expectation that the price will go
down and perhaps could breech the
$40 barrier that price will come back
up... between $65 to $70 a barrel."
Opposition Senator Shamfa
Cudjoe said yesterday it was a
"slap in the face" of T&T s citizens
for Government to say they
apprised the nation of the current
crisis in the energy sector.
She said so while contributing to
the debate on the Finance (Supple-
mentation and Variation of Appro-
priation) (Financial Year 2014) Bill,
2015 and the Finance Bill, 2015 yes-
A fiery Cudjoe, who was critical
of the Prime Minister s address to
the nation last Thursday, said it was
a slap in the face and provided little
details as to the current situation.
She was interrupted several times
by Government Senator Gerald
Hadeed and she asked for the pro-
tection of Senate President Timothy
"Can I have your protection Mr
President because I don t want to
have to protect myself?" she asked.
Continuing her contribution,
Cudjoe said it was either the Gov-
ernment didn t respect the citizens
of the country or "you think I am
foolish or you are a fool."
Adding that young children
understood if their mothers were
not making enough money, it would
affect their spending money.
Cudjoe said Government
seemed to be throwing money at
T&T s problems instead of imple-
menting effective strategies to
treat the situation.
"The Prime Minister spent 20
minutes on our television and at
the end of the day people were still
"This budget speaks to increased
spending in Cepep, increased
spending in URP and all these other
grants with no real mechanisms to
making these programmes work
more effectively or to ensure that
the people who are most in need
of the social assistance receive the
help," she added.
Cudjoe said the Government s
social programmes needed to be
examined and implemented on a
She said even as the country was
told the price of oil had decreased
by more than 50 per cent, expen-
diture remained more or less the
She was again interrupted by
"Mr Hadeed is provoking me. I
have a whip in my bag you know,"
she said, before continuing her con-
She said while the People s Part-
nership Government had the biggest
budgets, it had nothing to show for
"But SIS has something to show
for it, Reshmi probably has some-
thing to show for it but we don t
have anything to show for it," she
The number drawn on Crime
Watch yesterday was 698265. If
the mask on the back of your
Tuesday s T&T Guardian has that
number you win the prize of
You have until 3 pm today to
come to the T&T Guardian office,
22-24 St Vincent Street, Port-of-
Spain, with the newspaper con-
taining the winning number and
Tune into Crime Watch on
CNC3 at 6 pm for today s draw. If
the number matches the mask at
the back of your today s T&T
Guardian you have won today s
Carnival cash promotion
prize now worth $2,000
Cudjoe: PM's address
slap in the face
Will govt take from HSF?
Independent Senator asks Howai:
Finance Minister: T&T's economy robust
Links Archive January 13th 2015 January 15th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page