“Here we see a budget that is clearly people-centred, a people’s Budget,” Persad-Bissessar told reporters at the Sir Ellis Clarke corridor of the Parliament at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain after the 2013 Budget was read.
“It will help the poor man and the not-so-poor man. We will see middle income persons benefitting from the housing allowances. We will see the creation of a construction boom in the economy to create jobs.
This represents far more than our previous budgets. Every sector will benefit from this Budget. I am very pleased with the Budget.”
She said the measures would see the country move “forward as a nation”, adding, “I commend the Minister of Finance Larry Howai.
His special skills clearly showed in crafting the Budget and we look forward to other ministries going into the details of the Budget.”The Prime Minister said the aim of the Budget was to move towards, “putting to rest all the disquiet with respect to the Clico issue while at the same time putting together all that is required to deal with the vulnerable and making provision for human capital development, making substantial provision for the fight against crime and nation security.”
The Prime Minister said the removal of the fuel subsidy on premium fuel would only affect six percent of the “motoring public”.
“I am advised that it is only six percent of the motoring public that will be affected by the lifting of the subsidy on premium gas. But let us be very clear, that is on the high-end vehicles. That will be your Audis; BMWs — it’s a very small percentage. They can afford to pay the extra price it will not impact on the ordinary citizens. That is an additional area where revenue can accrue.”
No estimate of how much revenue will be made by the removal of the subsidy in this area was given yesterday.
However, the Prime Minister would not rule out that the entire fuel subsidy (estimated at about $4 billion a year) would be removed.
“The matter will be under review,” she said. “It would be foolhardy for us to remove the subsidy (rashly).
Should we have to make such a decision we will have to be sure there will be no hardship and inflationary pressures.”
She said the investment of $1.5 billion into CNG fuel conversion was a demonstration of putting “political will” behind the measure meant to wean consumers off certain fuels which attract subsidy.
Of the $5.5 billion allocation to National Security, the Prime Minister said, “Those issues would have been given $5 billion, I am sure Minister of National Security Jack Warner will be very happy. He asked for $4 billion.”
The Prime Minister noted that, “The largest slice of the Budget went into human capital training again that is a very important area if we are to move our human resources.” About $9.1 billion was devoted to Education.
Of the Clico measures, the Prime Minister said, “that was a major financial issue, a distressing one and over the last two years we have stabilised it.”
She anticipated “closure to this entire fiasco” with the issuing of instruments in relation to dealing with outstanding claims of policyholders.