Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 6th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 05TH OCTOBER, 2015
In keeping with the party's election promises, Imbert
said effective December 1 the cap on joint incomes
received by retirees regarding NIS and old age pension
will be $5,000, giving recipients an additional $500
From January also, a retirees benefits programme
being created will provide free drivers' permits and
passports for those 60 and over. Discounts on utility bills
for other categories of retirees will be introduced later.
While reducing the 15 per cent VAT rate to $12.5 per
cent and increasing the threshold for VAT registration
from $360,000 to $500,000, from January Imbert said
he intended to broaden the VAT base by reviewing and
adjusting exemptions and zero-rated items (luxury/non
Government also increased personal income tax
exemption limits from $60,000 to $72,000. Effective
January 2016, this exempts from tax all taxpayers
earning $6,000 monthly and less.
Saying the foreign exchange situation is untenable,
Imbert said the Central Bank would be told to re-
establish the Forex distribution which existed prior to
2014. The bank will also be asked to clear the backlog of
arrears of Forex demand, ensure legitimate demands are
met and ensure the stability of the exchange rate.
He assured Government would make its best efforts
to bring the Clico matter to an amicable conclusion.
Government also intends to give the Judiciary the
financial autonomy it has requested, including to manage
its resources, procurement and construction of facilities.
This is projected to be achieved by the end of 2016.
Discussions have also started with the Inter
Development Bank on an affordable mass transit system
option. An investment decision is expected before the
end of the fiscal year.
Imbert's detailed accusations of PP economic
mismanagement included that public expenditure rose
33 per cent over the last five years, from $46.7 billion in
2010 to $62 billion for 2015.
He added: "Notwithstanding billions of dollars in
borrowings, tax amnesties, extraordinary dividends, sale
of assets and high oil and gas prices, our cash balances
at the Treasury moved from a positive $6.5 billion on
May 24, 2010, we were in credit then, to a negative of
$8.5 billion in the middle of September 2015, a reversal
of $15.0 billion.
"What this means is that we are unable to use the
resources of our surplus funds, including the Green Fund
or the Unemployment Fund, since they are pledged
against the overdraft and are unavailable for drawdown."
He said the PP had also left the PNM with $5 billion to
be paid on collective agreements.
Saying T&T needs a programme of economic
adjustment, Imbert called on the private sector and
labour movement to work with Government on
solutions. He said the economy's recovery would depend
critically on the private sector's reaction to the improved
business environment and other measures being
Gas prices increased yesterday, former
property tax levels return from January
2016 and NIS contribution rates rise next
July but the new People s National Move-
ment Government s first Budget has kept
various election promises, including VAT
reduction, increased retirees benefits and
certain personal tax exemptions.
This despite a negative picture of the econ-
omy painted by Finance Minister Colm
Imbert, whose two-hour Budget presentation,
carried from the start, a running theme of
economic mismanagement by the past Peo-
ple s Partnership administration.
Saying the economy is in an "even more
perilous state" than the new Government
first envisaged, he added: "In order to main-
tain its inordinate and unsustainable levels
of expenditure, the previous government
maxed out our overdraft at the Central Bank,
taking us from a positive cash position in
2010 to a perilous situation in 2015, where
we were running on fumes , dangerously
close to the legal overdraft limit."
Presenting a $63 billion Budget to see T&T
through 2015- 2016, Imbert, in Parliament,
added: "...We have laid bare the true state
of T&T s finances... we believe that in order
to pull ourselves out of the difficulties which
the previous administration has put this
country in, through corruption and rampant
squandermania, we require the collective
efforts of all... "I wish to make a clarion call
to all to rally around our programme and
policies. Our Budget theme reflects this
vision: Restoring Confidence and Rebuilding
Trust --- Let s Do This Together."
The PNM s Budget is smaller than the
PP s last 2015 Budget of $68 billion.
It also carries a smaller deficit --- 1.7 per
cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ---
than the last PP deficit.
Following wide consultations over the next
six months on the state of the economy and
T&T s financial challenges, Imbert said Gov-
ernment would make appropriate budgetary
adjustments "if required" in the March 2016
mid-year review, to ensure the Budget is a
comprehensive regime for restoring long-
Presenting the package a month after
PNM s September 7 election victory, Imbert
said Government relied heavily on policies
and programmes of its 2015 election man-
The Budget was based on an oil price of
US$45 and gas price of US$2.75 per mmbtu.
National security received the largest allo-
cation, $10 .810 billion.
Among announcements affecting the pub-
lic pocket, effective yesterday, the price of
super gas increased by 15 per cent from $2.70
a litre to $3.11 a litre. Diesel gas also increased
from $1.50 a litre to $1.72 a litre.
Imbert said that would reduce the fuel
subsidy by $340 million. He said annual
subsidies have placed consistent, adverse
pressure on T&T s fiscal accounts. Govern-
ment is embarking on a fuel subsidy regime
in consultation with stakeholders soon, he
The existing Property Tax Act (2009) will
also be implemented "with a view to having
a fair and equitable property tax regime in
place by January 1, 2016, using old levels
and rates as a starting point."
Special provisions will be put in place to
ensure the elderly and indigent with fixed
low incomes are not disadvantaged wherever
they may reside, he said. Imbert added that
the PP s removal of the tax had cost $1 billion.
To obtain its fair share of taxes from the
gaming sector, Government will also expedite
gaming legislation and implement a gaming
regulatory system next year.
The PNM s planned Revenue Authority
will also be re-started and should be in place
by next September, he said.
Imbert added that he would introduce
National Insurance System legislation to
increase all earnings class limits by 13.5 per
cent, with the maximum insurable earnings
class limit increasing from $12,000 to
$13,600. He said NIS contribution rates will
also be increased from 12.0 per cent to 13.2
per cent effective July 4, 2016.
Uric Elie, left and Clifford Toussaint, aka The Observer, listen attentively to the Budget
presentation from Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
T&T close to
Imbert knocks PP mismanagement...
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