Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2017 Contents news A5
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• There will be no drastic or sudden depreciation of T&T’s
• Central Bank to give priority to manufacturing/trade
whenever it intervenes in Forex disbursement to com-
• Government revenue for the year revised upward from
$47.4 billion to $48.0 billion, due to increase of $575 million
from petroleum companies’ taxes.
• Overall Government deficit for 2017 now projected at
$5.9 billion compared with original projection of $6.0 billion.
•Increased $1b energy sector 2017 tax collections to $3.6
• Progress made towards bringing national accounts into
• Gas production improvement in the first six months of
2017; natural gas prices strengthened.
• Oil production back up to almost 76,000 barrels daily
• Central Statistical Office says no official GDP estimates
for 2017 or revised estimates for 2016 will be released
until prior to 2018 Budget. Available evidence suggests
real GDP “could show small increase” in 2017.
• Three new loans in 2017 - all $1b bonds for budgetary
support; one new government-guaranteed $90m loan for
completion of Brian Lara Stadium.
• Public sector programme implementation expected to
increase based on US$300m Andean Bank loan.
• Income tax collections were $743 million - 11 per cent,
higher than projected.
• Shortfall on projected VAT collections in the first half of
the year of $669 million.
• Inflation remained subdued between 2.5 and 3.6 per cent.
• Food inflation down from 18.2 per cent in 2014 to 7.7
per cent in January 2017.
• Unemployment rate rose over half a per cent to 4.0 per
cent at the end of 2016 from 3.4 per cent a year earlier.
Number of unemployed rose to 25,500 by the end of 2016
from 21,900 the year before.
• Foreign Reserves fell by 12 per cent from US$10.4 billion
in 2014 to US$9.1 billion in April 2017. Import cover fell
from 12 months in 2014 to 10 months in 2017.
• Tax collections from petroleum companies increased.
• Government expenditure for the half year was $23.5B.
Imbert looks to collect $$
Pay up time ahead - while there won't
be any gas price hike at this time, Gov-
ernment is in revenue collection mode
on other fronts.
And focus is on groups like CL Finan-
cial, which could owe Government -
and taxpayers - up to $27.7 billion from
the 2009 bailout of the former insur-
ance giant Clico.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert confirmed
these developments in his mid-year review
in Parliament yesterday. He detailed an
overall mixed picture of T&T's economic
and financial status.
While painting a more positive picture
than previous reviews and saying T&T
was transitioning to "a steady, sustainable
growth path," Imbert said Government's
focus will now be on revenue collection.
"Instead of new tax or tariff adjustments
at this time, Government will intensify ef-
forts on improving tax administration and
compliance for the balance of this fiscal
year and beyond.
"We need to see a quantum leap in the
performance of our revenue collection
agencies as soon as possible, since tax leak-
age and avoidance is widespread in T&T,
resulting in a loss of billions of dollars in
revenue," Imbert said.
"Barring unforeseen circumstances,
we're on course to achieve our fiscal con-
solidation targets for 2017. (But) this is a
difficult year for us as petroleum prices
continue to be depressed.
"We must cut our coat to suit our cloth.
We cannot continue with extravagance and
excesses of the recent past. We must face
reality and move forward understanding
everyone's required to make their contri-
bution one way or another, big or small,
rich or poor."
Immediately before that, Imbert noted
taxpayers could be owed as much as $27.7
billion from the 2009 Clico bailout and
Government is now focusing on recovery
of taxpayers' funds.
Very early in his 79-minute address, Im-
bert dispelled Opposition speculation that
he might have hiked diesel gas prices. He
said Government intends, over 2015 and
2018, to remove the fuel subsidy "so the
price of fuel will rise and fall according to
changes in world oil prices and the ex-re-
finery price of petroleum products."
"This requires the proper design and ap-
plication of an appropriate pricing formula,
being worked on at this time. There will
thus be no increases in fuel prices in this
On other revenue, Imbert said Govern-
ment had expected to collect $6.3 billion
in capital revenues in the first half of year.
"These funds were earmarked to come
from proceeds from the sale of Clico's
shareholdings in Methanol Holdings Inter-
national Limited (MHIL) of approximately
$2.3 billion, as well as from the sales of oth-
er Clico assets expected to yield a further
"These transactions have been delayed
because of complex legal, regulatory, cor-
porate and administrative roadblocks which
we're in the process of unravelling once and
On the Clico resolution plan, Imbert
said at September 2016, Government and
taxpayers would have directly spent ap-
proximately $20.3 billion concerning the
This while meeting the bailout's prima-
ry objectives concerning traditional policy
holders of Clico and British American and
(See pages A6, A19, A21 and A22)
Govt staying out
Prime Minister Dr
Keith Rowley yes-
terday insisted that
not be roped into the
sy with the Judicial
and Legal Service
Chief Justice Ivor
Archie and former
High Court judge
sar, saying they
would maintain a "Great Wall of China"
approach on the issue.
Rowley said the matter fell within the borders
of the Judiciary and the executives and as such
saw no reason why the Government should re-
quest a commission of enquiry on the matter.
He made the comment in Parliament as he an-
swered questions from Opposition members, one
of which came from Chaguanas West MP Ganga
Singh, who asked if Government was considering
of a CoE into the judicial system given its current
"No, the Government is not considering any
commission of enquiry into the judicial system
at this time," Rowley replied.
In a follow up question, Singh asked Rowley if
Government was considering measures to deal
with the over 50 part-heard matters that were
left hanging by Ayers-Caesar.
"Madame Speaker, I want to make it abun-
dantly clear that the specific matters to which
the Member refers is a matter which resides
entirely within the borders of the Judiciary and
this Government maintains the Great Wall of
China between the executive and the Judiciary,"
Asked by Singh if he was "turning a blind eye"
to the controversy in the justice system, Rowley
replied that the Member had "no idea where the
Prime Minister was looking. I give him the assur-
ance that the Government is concerned about all
aspects of national life in Trinidad and Tobago."
On Tuesday, it was reported by the JLSC that
Ayers-Caesar stood accused of misleading the
CJ and JLSC members and will not be return-
ing to the bench of the Magistrates' Court any
Breaking its silence on the raging controversy,
the JLSC, which is headed by Archie, admitted
Ayers-Caesar provided the JLSC with a list of
outstanding matters which stood at just three.
However, it said it was only after the prisoners'
uproar at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court
that an audit conducted by the Acting Chief Mag-
istrate determined that contrary to what they
were told by Ayers-Caesar, she actually had over
50 matters outstanding.
On April 12, Ayers-Caesar was sworn in as a
judge by President Anthony Carmona. Howev-
er, on April 27 she resigned from the position,
admitting she had not given the JLSC accurate
information and apologising for the effect of her
actions on stakeholders.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert delivers the
mid-year review during yesterday's sitting of
Parliament. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Moves to plug tax collection leakages
- 14 per cent lower than projected.
• Public Servants’ backpay “largely satis-
• HSF Fund balance increased by US$100
million, to US$5.54 billion at end of April.
• Public debt for the first six months of
2017 increased to $89.1 billion - an increase
in T&T debt-to-GDP ratio of 1 percentage
point from 60.1 per cent to 61.1 per cent.
• Gambling Industry Control Commission
operationalised in fiscal 2018.
• FCB IPO yielded $1.025 billion.
• Sale of National Gas Company’s
40,248,000 Class B shares to be launched
• Divestment of Trinidad Generation Un-
limited (TGU) advancing, with pursuit of
Independent Power Producer (IPP) or other
suitably qualified private sector investor
for 40 per cent of TGU.
• IMF assisting legal/fiscal framework for
oil/gas operations. Supplemental Petroleum
tax review to increase revenues.
• Dragon Field’s first gas expected 2019-
• Petrotrin-Finance talks to identify cost-ef-
fective solution for Petrotrin to meet 2019
debt service obligation without Govern-
ment guarantee. Strategies include par-
tial refinancing of its US$850m bond on
domestic market, followed by international
• Petrotrin review team’s report next
• World Bank visits in June for review of
public expenditure in education, health, so-
cial protection and other sectors to inform
fiscal consolidation programme.
• Final round of stakeholder talks ahead on
legislation to separate HSF Fund.
• Arrangement with Fitch Ratings Inc to
be finalised shortly for “more balanced
perspective to T&T’s credit rating.”
• Parliamentary committee deliberations
on Insurance Bill completed in June.
• Inland Revenue Board, Central Bank guide-
lines on point for Fatca deadlines. Banks
indicate readiness including already obtain-
ing client information for Fatca exchange.
• Opposition support needed for legisla-
tion to ensure T&T compliance with Global
Forum information sharing commitment
Mid-year Review highlights at a glance
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