Minister of the Treasury Brian Manning.  -
Minister of the Treasury Brian Manning. –

Treasury Secretary Brian Manning welcomed the news on Thursday that TT received higher earnings in the previous year than originally estimated.

However, former Finance Minister Vasant Bharat did not believe the news was a true picture of TT’s economic reality.

The National Transformation Alliance, led by former National Security Minister and former Police Commissioner Gary Griffiths, welcomed the improved income, but said the government could not trust it.

The opposition UNC believed the revenue improvements announced by the Treasury Department showed further evidence of the disconnect between government and reality.

In a statement on Thursday, the ministry said when Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the 2022/2023 budget to parliament on 26 September, revenue figures for fiscal year 2022 would increase from 1 October 2021 to 2022. It said it was based on actual and estimated numbers through August 31, 2019. September 2022.

“However, the Internal Revenue Service has since finalized the actual revenue figures for fiscal year 2022 and determined total revenue for fiscal year 2022 to be $54.21 billion, which will be announced in September 2022. $1.088 billion, $2.57 billion more than the revised revised estimate $1.0 billion more than the original revenue estimate of $43.33 billion for fiscal 2022 made in October 2021 I have.”

The ministry said, “Total expenditures for FY2022 are currently estimated at $54.54 billion and the fiscal deficit for 2022 is currently estimated at $329 million, which is equivalent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product). of less than 0.2% of the economy, well below international standards: a budget deficit of 3% of GDP.”

The ministry added, “In effect, the national budget for 2022 is nearly balanced, which is not what happened in TT since 2008, 14 years ago.”

Manning said it’s good that TT is earning higher earnings than estimated for the 2022 fiscal year. But this was no reason to throw caution to the wind or change the measures outlined in the September budget.

“We remain cautiously optimistic and believe the measures in place at this time are the most prudent,” he said.

But Mr Bharat said, “The Treasury’s attempt to take credit for this temporary increase in revenue is to lure the public into a false sense of security when our reality is completely the opposite. It’s a blatant attempt,” he countered.

Vasant Bharath Former Minister of Finance. –

He argued that the fiscal 2022 revenue increase had nothing to do with the fiscal policies implemented by the government over the past seven years. The increase in revenue was related to circumstances outside TT’s control, such as geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

“The TT economy suffered a sixth consecutive year of negative growth, with real GDP falling by 15.7%, during which CARICOM’s neighbors grew by 3.2% and the rest of the world by 21.4%,” said Bharat. ”

He said the recently released retail price index showed that the cost of living has risen 18% since 2015 without a corresponding increase in wages.

“The country as a whole continues to experience economic and institutional decline, with the weakest governance and least reforms.”

Bharat said measures such as tax increases by cutting fuel subsidies, a proposed property tax and withdrawal from the Heritage Stabilization Fund would help instill confidence and improve “growth prospects in a flat and failed economy”. said failed.

In a statement, the National Tax Agency said it was pleased with the revenue increase cited by the Treasury Department.

But the party “must remain vigilant against the meaningful fiscal and structural reforms necessary to pave the way for a meaningful social and economic recovery.”

NTA political leader Gary Griffiths. –

The NTA agreed with Bharath that TT’s improved earnings were due to global conditions that contributed to rising energy prices, and that TT benefited as a result.

“The TT government is so blessed by this windfall that it should try to build on it rather than take credit for it.”

The NTA said governments should not play with statistics and semantics.

The party argued that the 2016-2022 deficit would need to be reduced even if the 2022 budget were balanced.

Against this background, the National Tax Agency said, “There is still a long way to go to achieve a true balance.”

UNC Chairman Davendranath Tancoo argued that Imbert lives in another universe if the government is talking about increasing revenues and balancing budgets.

UNC Chair Davendranath Tancoo. –

“Citizens are experiencing the worst standard of living ever in our country’s history.”

Tancoo said examples include public protests against crime, poor infrastructure and rising food prices.

“For Minister Imbert and his government, it is clear that PNM now stands for ‘people never mattered’.”

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