Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 3rd 2017 Contents A15
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
weigh in on 2018 Budget
A number of business chambers
across the country have weighed
in on yesterday's Budget pres-
entation by Finance Minister
Dr Dax Driver, President of the
Ener y Chamber said the Govern-
ment is still working on details of
the proposed 12.5 per cent royalty
charge on all oil and gas extrac-
"On the 12.5 per cent royalty
for oil and gas production, it is
a bit dif icult for us to say too
much about it. We have to look
at it in the context of the overall
proposed changes for the entire
oil and gas iscal regime. It is still
a work in progress," he told the
He said the International Mon-
etary Fund (IMF) has had some
consultations with the Minister of
Finance about it.
Daphne Bartlett, President of
the San Fernando Business Asso-
ciation told the Guardian that the
budget has "good intentions" and
she would rate it 6.5 on the scale
of one to ten.
"Some of the things are quite
good. They are looking at
growths in exports and are look-
ing at incentives like the intention
to open Exim Bank where people
can access foreign exchange and if
someone has earned 30 per cent
of your exports and it is repatri-
ated to T&T you will get foreign
exchange for your purchases. He
also spoke about simulation of
SME's which will provide employ-
ment and export products."
Speaking about the increase in
fuel prices from $3.58 to $3.97 for
Super and $2.30 to $3.41 for Die-
sel, she said that will impact on
the standard of living across the
"Everyone knows that once the
fuel price is touched, it affects the
price of all goods and services in
the country. Everything will go up
exponentially just because of that
Nalini Maharaj, President,
Tunapuna Business Chamber
welcomed the initiative by the
Government to inject $100 mil-
lion into the Exim Bank for the
purpose of foreign exchange.
The Chamber also supports the
taxes on the gaming industry.
She expressed her disappoint-
ment about the amount of money
allocated to the agriculture sector
of just over half billion.
"The Minister spoke about di-
versifying, however if not much is
allocated to the agro sector how
can we go further and diversify
and move away from being en-
er y reliant," she asked.
"We did not expect diesel
prices to go up by 50 percent and
that will impact on the goods and
services industry. It will have a
negative impact on the economy
in terms of cost of living. People
will have less disposable income."
Liquat Ali, President, Point
Lisas Business Chamber wel-
comed some of the revenue col-
lection initiatives rolled out in the
budget but did note some con-
He said he had a "problem"
with the increase in diesel and
super gas prices.
"This is extremely high and I
do not think the business sec-
tor will absorb that cost and we
have been absorbing that cost in
fuel increases over the last cou-
ple years. This one is extremely
high," he said.
Economist: Finance Minister
did best with what he had
Finance Minister Colm Imbert did
the best he could with what he
These were the sentiments ex-
pressed by Economist Dr. Marlene
Attzs who stated she was cautiously
optimistic yesterday following the
offerings outlined by Imbert in the
2018 budget presentation.
She said while the revenue short-
falls were not a secret, Imbert had
explored ways of increasing rev-
enues from other sources rather
than just the oil and gas sectors.
Attzs offered, "The Minister has
essentially imposed some struc-
tural adjustments by spreading it
around so the burden is not going
to be felt on the most vulnerable."
Regarding the increase in diesel
and super gasoline, Attzs said pre-
vious price increases had resulted
in almost immediate increases in
transportation, food and groceries.
However, Attzs said, "It would
be interesting to see how they re-
spond to this additional rolling
back of the fuel subsidies."
She added, "I don't think per-
sonally that another price increase
in public transportation is war-
ranted at this time but it is left to
be seen what will happen."
Heartened about the proposal
to realign CEPEP workers into the
area of agriculture - which was one
of her pre-budget proposals - Attzs
was unsure what informed gov-
ernment's decision to award the
largest slice of the budget to the
Ministry of Education.
Attzs also welcomed the increase
of taxes on tyres as she said it now
posed a health hazard to the pop-
ulation when they were not prop-
erly disposed off.
T&T Chamber happy with proposals
The Trinidad and Tobago Cham-
ber of Industry and Commerce
has agreed with Finance Minister
Colm Imbert's announcement
that it can no longer be business
as usual and there was an urgent
need for fundamental transforma-
tion at this critical time.
In its immediate budget re-
sponse, the Chamber said Imbert
had made some laudable irst
steps towards incentivizing the
desired outcomes in areas such
as small business development,
startups, agriculture and housing.
While they were disappointed
that expenditure was not ad-
dressed as aggressively as they
had hoped, the Chamber said,
"At the same time, while the tax
base will be broadened somewhat
with the implementation of the
T&T Revenue Authority, the Gov-
ernment continues to increase
taxes on those already compliant
to make up the budget shortfall."
"Unfortunately, the budget did
not appear to adequately address
the current mismatch between
supply and demand for foreign
Acknowledging certain sectors
would be given preferred access,
they accepted that measures have
been put in place because of the
anticipated continuation in for-
eign exchange shortages.
The Chamber said some effort
was made to treat with the exist-
ing unsustainable level of trans-
fers and subsidies, and while
a modern T&T demanded ef i-
cient government services, "No
long-term strate y was clearly
identi ied towards achieving this
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