Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 16th 2013 Contents 3
Monday, September 16, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Passengers are free to travel with other
airlines if CAL ever raises its ticket prices,
Finance Minister Larry Howai said.
"JetBlue will be a competitor, Apollo will be
more of a niche carrier because they will be coming
with their charter flights, but that ensures CAL s
cost structure will be competitive and ticket prices
have to be competitive and if they are not then
they will not be viable. There is no question of
CAL increasing ticket prices. If they do increase
them passengers will fly with JetBlue or American
Airlines or someone else," he said.
In his budget presentation, Howai said the fuel
subsidy to CAL will be removed. However, one
day later he admitted that $400 million is allocated
to the airline for restructuring. He later added that
CAL s turnaround would not happen "overnight."
"I understand it would not happen overnight
and would not even happen in the first year and
perhaps we may need to give another capital injec-
tion next year and we may need to do something
because it may take two or three years to get CAL
where they should be. We must send them a send
strong signal," he said.
Howai also does not see any mass layoffs coming
out of CAL s restructuring and said he is still waiting
on the plan.
"On the unemployment issue, when I get the
plan we will see what is involved. It is not my
expectation that will be an issue. I will also need
to have my technocrats go through it and study
it and then proceed."
Responding to criticisms that the Government s
move to cut CAL s subsidy is a reaction to other
Caricom neighbours who have been calling for it,
he said it was a sovereign decision of T&T.
"Of course we take into account all the comments
of our Caricom neighbours. We run the airline on
what is best for T&T so yes there are criticisms
that one gets but that is not the basis on which
one makes a decision. The critical thing for us is
that we do what is in the best interest of T&T.
"In dealing with CAL the key issue for me is
an airline that has lost $700 million last year. Most
important thing is to get to a point as fast as I can
where I have no more outflows going to them. As
long as I keep them tied to our purse strings there
will be no incentive to do anything," he said.
T he budget for fiscal year 2013 to
2014 reflects the economic lead-
ership of the Government, said
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath.
"In my opinion and having come from a
financial background, it was the best budget
presented in the last three years. It was
responsible budgeting. It was not filled with
goodies that normally people associate with
budgets. It was economic leadership at the
highest level," he said.
He was speaking at a post budget forum
held by the San Juan Business Association at
Maritime Plaza, Barataria.
Bharath was reflecting the view of the dif-
ferent business chambers which have said
that the budget was balanced.
He said in past budgets there were "one
off statements" where promises were not
kept, but this time the Government moved
away from this.
He said after 2008 many economies were
in trouble but T&T did not feel the worse
effects because of the "prudence" of the
"We had a strong base upon which to
relaunch T&T. When you have a situation
where the investor is fragile, people are far
more judicious in where they want to place
their funds and not only foreign direct invest-
ment but also local investors. The only way
you can build your economy is through rev-
enue that is sustainable over a period of time,"
He said the problem with people of T&T
is that they like "instant gratification."
"We have reached a stage in T&T where
we find great difficulty in doing hard work.
As a result we do not plan for the future. It
is only over the last 15 months we have started
to look at the areas where we can possibly
be either competitive in the future or we have
some level of competitiveness such as financial
services or ICT," he said.
Finance Minister Larry Howai delivers his budget speech in Parliament. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
CAL can't afford to
increase fares --- Howai
Bharath: Best budget in three years
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath
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