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Govt preps public for Budget today

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Government will start preparing the public for the 2018 Budget from today with a pre-Budget forum by the Planning Ministry.

And Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley might well field some queries about his Government's third Budget when he goes one-on-one with the public at tonight's "Conversations with the Prime Minister" forum in St Augustine. (See page A11)

Government recently hinted that the 2018 package may be delivered just before month-end. Parliamentary debate is expected in early October. Last Friday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said he'd announce the date "maybe" by this week. He said the Budget would reveal Government's action on issues facing T&T. Sources hinted it may not exceed the 2017 Budget of $53 billion.

Signs the 2018 package isn't far off increased yesterday as the Planning Ministry announced a pre-Budget forum today at UWI, St Augustine.

The ministry stated: "In addition to aspects of the 2018 National Budget, details on the National Development Strategy Vision 2030 and its role in the National Budget will be discussed."

Also, as part of the 2018 National Budget, the Ministry added, UWI's Institute of Gender and Development Studies developed a tool to integrate a gender perspective into deliberations on the Budget. This will show how the Budget is translated into the public's realities at household level.

Among business leaders, T&T Chamber CEO Gabriel Faria said Budget priorities include corrective anti-crime action, more active management of the exchange rate, widening of the tax net via Revenue Authority implementation, incentivised investment in export-oriented and small business activities.

American Chamber of Commerce president Mitchell De Silva, also supporting a Revenue Authority, expects a significant—perhaps wider—fiscal gap as revenues may not improve.

The T&T Manufacturers' Association, seeking sector expansion, wants export incentives for creation of additional Forex streams.


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