Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 6th 2015 Contents A5
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday
defended his Government s allocation of the
largest portion of the national Budget to
national security, saying the crime problem
was a major national concern.
He was speaking during an interview with
reporters following yesterday s two-hour 2016
Budget presentation by new Finance Minister
Colm Imbert in the House of Representatives,
Tower D, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Speaking in the lobby of the Parliament,
Rowley said the more than $10 billion allocated
to national security "should be a matter of
serious concern to the national population."
He said that was because in every Budget
since the People s National Movement (PNM)
first assumed office in 1956, education was
given the largest allocation.
According to Rowley, the decision to allocate
the largest portion to national security was
because of "a chronic and rampant criminal
conduct in T&T.
"That is the dollarising of crime and this
should let the population know that crime is
having a serious effect on the population.
"We just cannot go on that way. We have
to treat and roll back the cost of criminal
activity in this country. Otherwise, if it con-
tinues like that, we keep funnelling money
away from health, education and other pro-
ductive areas trying to cope with the crime
of hopefully a small minority," he added.
He said dealing with the crime problem
was an assignment for the Government and
"we are currently reviewing what we have
been doing in responding to the criminal ele-
ment and we intend in very short order to
conduct a major manpower audit of the secu-
rity apparatus of T&T."
Rowley said that audit was intended "to
determine what we have available, how it is
being used and how we can improve upon
it."There was a record 50 murders in T&T last
The Prime Minister was also asked to com-
ment on the Government Assistance for
Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme.
He said the funding for tertiary education
was to be reviewed because of the prevailing
Rowley said funding for GATE was being
challenged because the country s income had
been cut by 50 per cent.
He said based on those conditions "should
we set about to provide for those who really
do not need it or should we proceed to ensure
that those who need it get it, under the reduced
income by having a means test."
According to Rowley "citizens who can pay
their way will be asked to do so in the not
too distant future --- either part way or whole
way --- and others who without Government
help will not be able to advance, they are
guaranteed that support."
The Prime Minister said any existing
wastage and corruption under the programme
would be eliminated.
Dealing with measures to reduce the annual
billion dollar fuel subsidy, which Rowley said
"in some instances it benefit most of those
who are better able to afford it."
Commenting on the Children Life Fund,
set up by the previous Kamla Persad-Bissessar
regime, Rowley said there were serious con-
cerns with the initiative. The fund was estab-
lished, via contributions from the former Gov-
ernment ministers and other contributions,
to help children in need of costly medical
"A number of those situations are already
before the Fraud Squad (and) that indicates
to us that there was something wrong in
there," Rowley said.
He said the fund would be audited and
improvements in its management imple-
Biggest slice for crime control---PM
The 2016 Budget read in Parliament by Finance
Minister Colm Imbert was deceptive, inflationary
and will see the poor and working class in this
country feel the effects of raised goods and services
in the near future.
That was the view of Opposition Leader Kamla
Persad-Bissessar as she spoke to media following the
reading of the Budget yesterday. The press conference
was held at Tower D.
"This Budget is tax, tax, tax, tax and promise,
promise, promise," Persad-Bissessar said.
Flanked by Opposition MPs and Senators, Persad-
Bissessar said the promises that were made were
promises of mega-projects with no indication of how
those would be financed.
Among the projects mentioned by Imbert was the
establishment of a ship repair and building centre in
the western peninsula, the establishment of a sea
route from the Toco to Tobago, as well as highway
projects, including the Chaguaramas causeway.
"They gave no indication of what would be done
or what would be the costing of any of these mega
"I want us to recall for the past five years not a
single tax was levied on the population," she added.
Persad-Bissessar said Imbert had presented an
"The prices of almost everything will go up, so
when you look at the impact on the vulnerable, on
the poor and on the working classes, we will see the
increase that has come on fuel, super and diesel.
She noted that almost all vehicles that did transport
of goods, as well as maxi-taxis, used diesel.
"The cost of transport will go up. If the cost of
transport goes up, it means the cost of every good
or service in the country will go up.
"Whilst he (Imbert) has said he will review the
fuel subsidy, he has in effect removed the subsidy
off the super and diesel up to 15 per cent. It is infla-
tionary, it will impact on the most vulnerable and
Persad-Bissessar described it as an anti-people s
She also noted that there was few incentives given
to the private sector and businesses.
Persad-Bissessar also said the reduction in VAT
needed to be further explained.
"While they promised to reduce VAT from 15 per
cent to 12.5 per cent, that is fine but at no point did
they indicate to the population they would be remov-
ing the zero-rated on items.
Kamla: Budget deceptive and anti-working class
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar during a
press conference after the reading of the Budget
yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
(FROM PAGE A3)
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, who took notes during
Imbert s delivery, replies to the Budget
at 10 am Friday. Debate will also be
held on Saturday, next Monday and
Total projected revenue: $60.287
National security: $10.810 billion.
Education/training: $9.7 billion.
Health: $6.088 billion.
Public utilities: $4.4 billion.
Local government: $ 2.2 billion.
Works/infrastructure: $1.9 billion.
Housing: $1.6 billion.
Transport: $1.5 billion.
Agriculture: $831 million.
Tobago House of Assembly: $2.772
PSIP: $7 billion.
• Reintroduction of ten-year
passports from January 2016,
removal of immigration form
requirement for citizens at ports of
• Reintroduction of the Rent To
Own housing programme.
• Review/audit of PP's Children's
• Free national broadband
wireless network, hot spots in
• Introduction in 2016 of a video
conferencing system at Remand
Yard; pilot project for lay
magistrates to address minor
• Incentives to encourage
installation of CCTV/alarm systems
• Business levy increased to 0.6
per cent per quarter, Green Fund
Levy contribution increased to 0.3
per cent per quarter from January.
• Graduate recruitment
programme catering for 20 people
to be placed at each of the 23
• $15 million to assist labour,
divided between JTUM, NATUC.
• On the Job Training stipends
increased by 20 per cent from
• Tax incentive framework for
construction in March 2016
• Inputs to the agricultural sector
exempt from all taxes/duties from
• Local government reform
completed by October 2016.
• Removal of all traffic lights
between Port-of-Spain to Sangre
Grande and construction of
• New Tobago airport terminal,
air/sea link improvements, dry-
docking facility plans, Toco ferry
port, new Port-of-Spain container
• Joint Border Security Agency,
Sports Institute of T&T, revival of
PM's award for Best School Kitchen
Garden, reactivation of International
Financial Centre plan.
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