Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 2nd 2015 Contents A5
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Government will seek parliamentary
approval on Friday to increase borrowing
limits to the level of $30 billion to deal with
general development and also to a borrow-
ing level of $45 billion for state agencies
guaranteed by Government.
This is according to various figures given
in the House of Representatives agenda for
Friday s House sitting where several motions
on the matter will be debated.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday
told the T&T Guardian the situation was
necessary due to the borrowing level done
over the last five years.
At last Friday s Lower House session, Gov-
ernment House Leader Camille Robinson-
Regis signalled that at the next House session
(this Friday), Government would be presenting
motions to raise the borrowing ceilings.
She said debate would focus on amend-
ments regarding several pieces of legislation
regarding borrowing, including the Devel-
opment Loans Act, Guarantee of Loans Act
(for Companies) and External Loans Act.
According to Friday s House agenda, debate
will focus on a motion concerning the Devel-
opment Loans Act which authorises Gov-
ernment to borrow money internally or exter-
nally in sums not exceeding TT$30 billion
for financing general development in T&T.
It can also be done for repayment of bor-
rowings effected for general development;
or repayment of borrowings for general devel-
opment; or by a statutory authority, by a
state enterprise or UWI.
A resolution to be debated in the motion
seeks to authorise Government under this
Act to borrow internally or externally "in
sums not exceeding $15 billion TT."
Another resolution seeks to allow Gov-
ernment to borrow $15 billion under Section
3(1) of the External Loans Act, Chap 71:05.
This Act allows Government to borrow
money externally in foreign currency for
financing general development in T&T, or
of repaying borrowings effected for the general
Also under debate is a third resolution---
under the Guarantee of Loans (Companies)
Act, Chap. 71:82 ---which mandates that the
aggregate amount of all borrowings by State
companies that are guaranteed by Govern-
ment under the Act, shall not exceed $45
Imbert explained: "Because of the bor-
rowing done over the last five years, we are
very close to the limits in all three (Acts) and
without these increases, we would be unable
to pursue T&T s Development Programme
or finalise a number of loan arrangements
entered into by the previous government."
He didn t detail if Government would seek
to use the full limit of the $15 billion and $45
billion sums allowed under the Acts, or what
specifically the funds will be used for. He
will speak further on it on Friday.
At last Thursday s weekly Government
media conference, Imbert said T&T s Devel-
opment Programme would have been among
"one or two things" which might be delayed
due to falling oil prices.
He said the latter was a serious concern.
He said the Development Programme includes
roads, bridges, schools, infrastructure, etc.
Commenting on the upcoming "borrow-
ing" motion, Opposition Whip Dr Bhoe
Tewarie said: "The fact Government is seeking
to increase borrowing means they will be
able to borrow up to those levels (in the Acts)
if they find it is necessary. What we are inter-
ested in hearing from the Finance Minister
is what exactly, they are planning to borrow
"The Government s borrowing strategy
cannot be taken in isolation.
"It has to be seen against the background
of the recently---presented Budget and the
extent to which the Budget has been imple-
mented, is being implemented or is imple-
mentable as well as the numbers used in the
budget for revenue, expenditure and deficit."
Economist Indera Sagewan-Alli, who noted
the PP Government had also increased bor-
rowing limits in its term, said she was not
surprised Government also was going that
She added: "Given the information pro-
vided by the Finance Minister in the 2016
Budget, there was a lot of outstanding debts
to be repaid, monies spent, owing etc.
"Add to this, falling energy prices and Gov-
ernment s $63 billion Budget. The money,
therefore, has to come from somewhere to
pay debts and treat with 2016 expenditure.
"This (borrowing) route is the only one
left to Government, given the declining rev-
enue situation. Government s cash cow of
sorts, the National Gas Company, has insti-
tuted a wage freeze and that, to me, is an
indication of how bad things are.
"Also, there s the worsening foreign
exchange situation and TT currency depre-
ciation. If you are at the lower end of the
band, you will know the dollar has depre-
Sagewan-Alli said borrowing for develop-
ment purposes was not "necessarily a bad
thing" since development could lead to medi-
um-term revenue generation. However, she
expressed concern about borrowing that
involved incurring new expenditure.
"Without a doubt they should, for instance,
shelve the Rapid Rail mass transit project for
at least a year," she added.
Sagewan-Alli said that project would add
to various transportation systems already in
train with hefty state subsidies and would
further encumber T&T with the need for
new technology, infrastructure and human
Urging Government to lean towards prac-
tical revenue-generating programmes over
vanity projects, she added: "(So) on Friday
I hope the minister will be open about what
he s borrowing for, so there can be full trans-
parency and accountability.
JENSEN LA VENDE
Acting police corporal Lloyd
Samaroo appeared in court yester-
day as the 41st police officer to be
charged with criminal offences for
The officer, who was last attached
to the Central Division, appeared
before Port-of-Spain First Court
magistrate Christine Charles charged
with four offences arising out of a
September 30 incident.
The charges are misbehaviour in
public office, assault, perverting the
course of justice and malicious dam-
age. Samaroo, who was represented
by attorney Paradath Singh, was
granted $150,000 bail while at the
Belmont Police Station on Monday
night shortly after he was officially
charged with the offences.
Singh asked that Samaroo remain
on the bail bond granted at the police
station given that his client, by virtue
of his employment, is of good enough
standing that he would comply with
the requirements and would attend
Singh added that his client s doc-
uments used to secure the bail were
also above board and they should be
allowed to continue on the original
After no objections were made
concerning Samaroo s bail, the mat-
ter was transferred to the Chaguanas
Magistrate s Court and adjourned to
The officer, who has 18 years serv-
ice, was charged Monday evening by
members of the Professional Stan-
dards Bureau who on Sunday arrest-
ed him at the Chaguanas Police Sta-
Police say the charges arise out of
an alleged incident in which a man
was beaten at a bar on September
30 in the Central Division.
Borrowing level to hit $75b mark
Govt brings motions in House Friday...
The Opposition UNC has expressed concern
that Government's unprecedented move to
head several new parliamentary Joint Select
Committees (JSC) would hamper full
Government recently announced members
for 15 JSCs as well as the Public Accounts
Committee (PAC) and Public Accounts
Enterprises Committee (PAEC). The JSCs
included new committees on Human Rights
and Diversity, Foreign Affairs and on other
The Opposition heads the PAC.
UNC whip Dr Bhoe Tewarie, who was
named to head the latter team, noted that
the PNM administration had instituted a
practice of having Government members
chair the new JSCs and have Opposition
members as deputy chairmen of those
He said previously under the PP's tenure,
JSCs were headed by Independent
Senators. He said that was done to ensure
Saying Government should not head the
JSCs, Tewarie added: "I think it is
unreasonable for the Government to chair
the five new committees among the JSCs.
"One cannot expect the Government to
scrutinise its own work. It is something of a
joke that Government would want to chair
these committees now and ask the
Opposition to be deputy chair. It makes little
sense for the Opposition to play that role.
"If the Government is in the chair, it will
means it's one more role to dominate the
Parliament and that's a reversal of roles. It
seems they want to be in charge of
everything," he added.
Three of the new JSC teams---the Finance
and Legal Affairs committee, Land and
Physical Infrastructure Committee, Social
Services and Public Administration---hold
preliminary meetings today at Parliament.
Cop in court on 4 charges
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