Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 10th 2015 Contents A4
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, October 10, 2015
Caroni Central MP and former
planning minister Dr Bhoendra-
datt Tewarie is advising the new
PNM Government to be judicious
when considering implementation
of any austerity measures from
the International Monetary Fund
(IMF). Contributing to yesterday s
debate on the 2016 national budget
in the House of Representatives,
Tewarie noted that Works and
Transport Minister Fitzgerald
Hinds read out a list of those
measures from an IMF document.
During the debate Hinds quoted
Finance Minister Colm Imbert who
said that the budget was prepared
after a meeting with IMF officials
who were invited to the country
for the purpose. Tewarie said it was
important "to know what the aus-
terity options would be, it is impor-
tant to know what the choices are
going to be but it is the task of the
Government to be judicious, to be
balanced, to be fair, to be equitable
and to understand what the impact
of these things are going to be."
Tewarie said unless there was "a
partner element of budgetary strat-
egy over the next five years that
has to do with growth and devel-
opment in the economy, all you are
going to see is a shrinking pie, a
contracting economy and hardship
on the population."
Tewarie said the real budget
would be presented in March next
year during the mid-term review.
And he said that would be done
"perhaps with the help of the IMF
as the MP for Laventille West is so
taken in by the prescriptions of the
Tewarie said the budget was not
a real one "because the revenue
targets are not realistic. There is
no way that the projection in this
budget to double VAT intake in one
year is going to be realisable. It is
not possible, the revenue targets
are not attainable."
He said that was his greatest
concern for the nation "because of
the lack of philosophical clarity in
the presentation of the budget
statement. That is what we need
to be concerned about as a coun-
The former minister also said
something must be done to stabilise
the energy sector as complaining
about the decline over the past five
years would not solve the problem.
It is time for T&T to move far-
ther away from the shoreline and
pursue deeper explorations for oil
This was the view of Minister of
Energy Nicole Olivierre as she deliv-
ered her maiden speech during the
budget 2016 debate in Parliament
Olivierre said by the end of 2015
the country would not only be faced
with low oil prices, but also
increased competition in the energy
sector from the United States.
"We have picked the low-hanging
fruit. We must now search for new
frontiers," Olivierre said.
Describing her portfolio as an
important one, she said she was
humbled to have been given the
She said during the past five
years, under the People's Partner-
ship government, the energy sector's
contribution to growth in T&T had
faced a serious decline.
"We must take decisive action in
our energy sector to reverse the
stagnation and decline from the last
"We cannot sit idly by and allow
productions to decline and revenues
Oil production decreased from
100,000 barrels per day in 2010 to
80,000 barrels in 2015.
She said the Government would
engage all energy stakeholders in
meaningful consultation to arrive
at a consensus on the way forward.
She said the cancellation and
abandonment of projects by the
past government had created a dif-
"The management of the energy
sector has been a colossal failure.
"As we push exploration into
deeper waters, we anticipate that
cost will be greater but remain opti-
mistic that finds will be significant.
"We remain hopeful that we will
find oil and gas in the new fron-
Olivierre said it was the govern-
ment's intention to go beyond the
boundaries in T&T.
She listed other issues in the
energy sector which the Govern-
ment would be tackling.
These included renegotiating
arrangements so that all the players
in the industry benefited more equi-
She said the Government also
intended to review and revamp the
institutional framework of state
enterprises in the energy sector and
to work with fence-line communi-
ties, specifically referencing oil spills
which negatively affected citizens
in South Trinidad.
Arts minister questions
PP's arts funding
Minister of Community Devel-
opment, Culture and the Arts Dr
Nyan Gadsby-Dolly yesterday
questioned why the People s
approved $1 million funding for
a private promotions company.
She also raised the issue of
$800,000 for four artistes to per-
form at foreign music festivals.
During her maiden contribution
in Parliament for the debate of the
2016 budget yesterday, Gadsby-
Dolly said her ministry would be
creating a grants policy to guide
the funding of cultural projects.
"We cannot afford the haemor-
rhaging of taxpayers' money to
happen again in this way," Gads-
by-Dolly said. "Under the People's
Partnership, the situation existed
where the minister wielded control
over disbursement of public
money." She said a strong policy
for grants and funding was to be
developed at the ministry to
increase transparency, accounta-
bility and fair play.
"The development of adherence
to a grants policy is critical and
urgent." She said her ministry
would also encourage the devel-
opment of more artistes and create
more jobs in the cultural sector.
"The ministry will strive to develop
and build resilient communities
and create an environment where
culture can flourish in a spirit of
understanding and tolerance."
She described the joining of the
ministry of community develop-
ment with the ministry of the arts
as a strategic move. "Culture brings
out national pride like nothing else
can and this is the time where we
need national pride like never
"We have forged a unique cul-
ture that is distinctly Trinbagon-
ian. We cannot focus on the sep-
aration of our cultures and expect
to bind together as a nation."
She said the Government want-
ed to see the transformation of the
cultural sector into an economic
growth zone and focus on oppor-
tunities to diversify the economy.
about T&T in 2017
What happens in 2017?
This was the question posed
by Pointe-a-Pierre MP David
Lee as he contributed to the
budget 2016 debate in Parlia-
"The economy may go into
a nose-dive in 2017," Lee said.
He questioned the sustain-
ability of the budget and said
Finance Minister Colm Imbert
needed to answer the public's
"What will happen in 2017
and beyond? Are we to expect
a contracting of the economy?
Are we to expect a significant
tightening of the belt? What are
the real plans for moving this
economy along a sustainable
path and not only short-term
growth and development?" Lee
He said the Government did
not show anything about the
"scary and likely scenario"
where revenues would be far
less than expenditure. "I am
concerned, frightened and wor-
ried that the economy will go
into a nose-dive by 2017," Lee
Denying he was a predictor
of "doom and gloom" about the
economy, Lee said he wanted
the best for his country.
"Tell us, what are the plans
for the medium to long term in
creating a path for sustainable
development for this econo-
He asked whether the Gov-
ernment was being optimistic
over the price of oil rebounding
to $80 per barrel.
"The People's Partnership
administration was criticised by
the PNM for having a budget
of approximately $60 billion in
2014 to 2015," Lee said.
He said the People's Partner-
ship had left a sound economy
in the hands of this new admin-
He said the environment
could not have been deemed
unstable over the last five years.
"My fear is that the same
treatment of neglect will be
dealt out to businesses as done
in the past by this PNM Gov-
ernment," Lee said. (KC)
Couva North MP Ramona
Ramdial, the next opposition
member to contribute to the
debate, also criticised the
plans of the present
She started her
contribution, however, by
slamming the Government for
the $15 million allocation for
the labour movement,
describing it as "hush money."
Continuing with her party's
description of the 2016
budget as a deceptive budget,
Ramdial said Finance Minister
Colm Imbert needed to be
clear with the population.
T&T to seek gas,
oil further afield
Olivierre promises in maiden speech
Tewarie: Budget not a real one
Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradatt
"The management of
the energy sector
has been a colossal
failure. As we push
deeper waters, we
anticipate that cost
will be greater but
that finds will be
remain hopeful that
we will find oil and
gas in the new
Energy Nicole Olivierre
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