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Sunday, January 1, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Two-day Cabinet retreat
at Diplomatic Centre
Recovery, performance to be discussed at...
This year, 2017, is expecting
to be a year of recovery for T&T.
Despite the trying circumstanc-
es of 2016—now compounded by
strike signals from the Oilfields
Workers' Trade Union (OWTU)—
Finance Minister Colm Imbert
has projected recovery for T&T in
2017. This was his response when
asked about T&T’s direction for
the new year.
The Central Bank on Friday indi-
cated that in November it had stated
that it considered growth of 1.5 per
cent "to be a reasonable projection
for 2017." T&T's economy was esti-
mated to have declined by approxi-
mately 4.5 per cent in 2016 following
contractions in 2014 and 2015 due to
energy sector deterioration.
Imbert's view of a 2017 recovery
was also stated in government’s 2017
budget. Last week, he confirmed the
budget's position on recovery stands.
In the budget, he explained, the
Government had embarked on a
fiscal plan aiming to achieve overall
budget balance by 2020 via reforms
and changes to reduce energy reve-
nue dependency, as well as contain-
ing government expenditure.
Measures towards this included
elimination of waste, corruption,
and movement away from subsidies
and discretionary transfers. Focus
would be on spending on essential
The economic state of play, im-
plementation of projects and pro-
grammes for recovery and projected
challenges are expected to be among
discussions at a retreat of the Row-
ley Cabinet being held immediately
after tomorrow's public holiday, the
Guardian confirmed last week.
The retreat on January 3-4 will be
at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.
It will be the second such retreat af-
ter the Government's first in Feb-
ruary 2016 in Tobago. Government
officials said the retreat includes fo-
cus on implementation schedules
for 2017 budget projects, including
for Tobago, now preparing for the
January 23 Tobago House of Assem-
bly polls. The ruling PNM launches
its THA campaign on January 8 at
Market Square, Scarborough.
Other sources said the retreat fo-
cus will also be on ensuring min-
isters take responsibility for tasks
since there have been concerns
about some 2016 performances.
The retreat ends the day OWTU-
plans to serve strike notice. How-
ever, the retreat was in the works
before OWTU's action.
The new year focus is also on the
"bang" that 2017 has opened with,
following breakdown of OWTU/
Petrotrin wage negotiations at
Thursday's marathon meeting.
OWTU last Friday said it will serve
strike notice on
Unless averted, how OWTU's
strike could affect government's re-
covery plans remain to unfold since
legal strike action can be taken un-
interrupted for three months—up to
March, including the busy Carnival
period—which could affect T&T's
Last Friday, OWTU boss Ancel
Roget warned citizens to stock up.
Petrotrin management, however,
has assured contingencies are in
place. Labour officials said that
Government was working on the
matter. Government sources noted
that globally oil companies have had
to cut costs in the oil price down-
In the 2017 budget Government
had said discussions with OWTU
will be held "early in 2017" to see how
to resolve Petrotrin's many issues.
The budget noted a range of
"far-reaching measures" are needed
to guarantee Petrotrin's "very sur-
vival" and that it needs to cut oper-
ating expenditure by $500 million
over the next four years or increase
This requires reduction in spend-
ing, review of the organisational
structure, stringent control of op-
erating costs and other measures
which are "absolutely necessary
since a robust restructuring pro-
gramme will be a pre-condition for
rescheduling Petrotrin's huge debt
Initial discussions had started
and OWTU was expected to issue
The 2017 budget
The budget stated T&T's medi-
um-term framework is predicated
on resumption of economic growth
starting at one per cent in 2017, in-
creasing to two per cent annually in
It was projected the recovery
in growth would be based largely on
energy sector rebound, new oil/gas
discoveries coming onstream, and
expected turnarounds in other ma-
jor sectors, particularly construction
Projections are for oil prices—
(US)$50 this year and (US)$60 in
2018, which would aid petroleum
revenue recovery from $2 billion
currently, to $14 billion by 2020.
From this year also, steps will be
in force to reduce tertiary education
expenditure, and also on Cepep and
CALENDAR ON PAGE A6)
Meanwhile, the Government's retreat ends just be-
fore the January 6 resumption of Parliament when the
crucial FATCA legislation returns for Government and
Opposition deliberations, at the stage of a vote.
Last Friday, UNC's Suruj Rambachan said further stake-
holders' meetings on the issue had not come off, but
the UNC will caucus this week to confirm its position.
He could not say if UNC would shift from its hard-line
call for Joint Select Committee scrutiny of the bill.
UNC FINALIZES FATCA STANCE NEXT WEEK
and Sunil Partap try
out 2017 New Year
Party Pro store in
New Year at a
house party in
2017 IS HERE !
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