Imbert on mid-year review: The economy has turned around
In presenting the Mid-Year Budget Review, the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert said that turnaround in the economy is on the way and “we are witnessing a welcomed upturn...with turnaround in energy and non-energy sectors." He said economic growth is expected at 2% in 2018 and 2.2% in 2019.
According to Imbert, the Government has re-vitalised the energy sector thanks to significant discussions with upstream and downstream companies, both locally and abroad. The Ministry of Finance, he said, has also revised the oil and gas taxation regime.
In the non-energy sector, taxation collection has increased from $1.8 TTD to over $2B TTD while inflation rate has hit record lows with headline inflation dropping to 1.7% which he said is a direct result of the Government’s economic policies.The Minister claimed that this country’s inflation rate is currently well below the global average of 3.5%, including that of other oil-based economies such as Nigeria (14%) and Syria (32%).
“Our revenue projections for 2018 are on track” Imbert told the Parliament as he assured that Trinidad and Tobago is on the way to long term economic health as seen by the stabilization of the public debt, increases in foreign reserves and an increase in the HSF, despite withdrawals.
For these and other reasons, S&P confirmed the economic recovery taking place and an affirmation of T&T’s credit rating was provided. This is the first time in three years that T&T has not been downgraded, the Finance Minister boasted.
“Our new road network is at various levels of implementation. Additionally, citizens and tourists alike will soon be able to benefit from the new beach facilities at Maracas.”
Turning to health, Imbert projected that that the Point Fortin and Arima hospitals are expected to be completed in 2019 and the Government along with the UWI, the Government of India and InterHealth Canada are currently in discussions to operationalize the Couva Hospital.
“This administration has achieved what the previous government failed to do.”
The acquisition of bonds, land and shares in Republic Bank, Angostura, One Caribbean Media, MHI Ltd among others are hallmarks of Government’s success in the recovery of funds used in the CLICO bailout which cost the people of Trinidad and Tobago upward of $23B.
Furthermore, there has been significant progress in the areas of property tax and the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA) which will function to decrease tax leakages and instances of tax avoidance. The country can also look forward to the introduction of Gaming Industry legislation in the Parliament at the end of 2018.
With respect to border control, the introduction of mobile scanning technology at the Pt Lisas port has already increased the level of security. Mobile scanners will also be installed at the Port of Spain port shortly, Imbert said.
“We are entering an era of macro-economic stability. The economy has turned around. Revenue collection is up. The non-energy sector is growing. The energy sector is booming.”