AMCHAM T&T RESPONDS TO THE MID-YEAR BUDGET REVIEW
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) credits the Government for reducing and containing expenditure and hopes that this discipline in expenditure is continued in the future. We look forward to future gains as we use technology to deliver government services more effectively, and improve processes to better monitor government expenditure and evaluate outcomes. We welcome the promises of fiscal transparency and the publication of real-time revenue and expenditure data. Another commendable announcement is the decision to lay legislation on the revenue authority before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament. This is in keeping with our call for greater bipartisan collaboration on critical national issues.
However, the most important point to note from the mid-year review is that even with increased revenue from higher petroleum prices and increased gas production over the last six months, as noted by the Hon. Minister “our core revenues from taxation are still fragile and still below $40 billion, while we are running a $50 billion economy”. This means that the deficit between income and expenditure persists to the tune of some $10B and is projected to continue over the next few years. While this gap is expected to be closed somewhat in 2018 by the sale of assets and the establishment of the National Investment Fund this year, such measures are unsustainable and therefore continued emphasis on expenditure reduction and containment needs to remain as a priority.
AMCHAM T&T stresses that concerted effort is necessary to not only reduce expenditure and close the fiscal gap but more pointedly we continue our call for the adoption of fiscal rules, alongside other revenue stabilization measures that would better manage the volatility that we experience in our revenue.
As such, we encourage the Hon. Minister of Finance and the Government to remain steadfast in their commitment to fiscal discipline. As the country uses this opportunity to restructure the economy to return to a period of sustainable growth, we encourage the Government to engage meaningfully with all sectors of the society, including the business community. AMCHAM T&T stands ready and able to work with the Government toward the long term growth of the economy and development of our society.
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