Finance Minister Colm Imbert read the 2020 Budget in the House of Representatives Monday.
The theme of the 2020 Budget was 'Stability, Strength and Growth'.
The Minister announced an estimated revenue of $47.749 billion and total expenditure of $53.036 billion, resulting in a fiscal deficit of $5.287 billion.
The budget was based on a projected oil price of US$60 and a gas price of US$3 per MMBtu.
The highest allocation went to Education and Training, amounting to $7.5 billion, with National Security getting $6.044 billion and Health being allocated $6.084 billion.
The Tobago House of Assembly was allocated $2.283B. This included $2.033B for recurrent expenditure, $231.6M for capital expenditure and $18M for the URP Tobago.
Here are some highlights of the minister address.
* No more need for life certificates to be presented by pensioners to Treasury.
* Elimination of arrival forms at airports.
* Removal of all taxes and duties on LED bulbs for five years.
* Increase investment tax credit for energy companies from 20% to 25% to stimulate exploration and development investment from Jan 1, 2020.
* On-the-job-training increase stipends by 10% and increase intake for the programme to 8000 trainees from December 1, 2019.
* Increase of minimum wage from $15 to $17.50 per hour from December 1, 2019, to benefit 194,000 persons.
* Increase in personal goods that can be imported without incurring Custom duties from $3,000 to $5,000 from December 1, 2019.
* Increase in tax allowance from $3M to $6M for corporate sponsorship of nationals in sporting activities, culture, arts, culture, audiovisual production, the local fashion industry.
* To amend Corporative Societies Act to increase the limit of $5,000 to transfer of shares to another person on death of a member, to $50,000.
* Increase wages of CEPEP workers by 15% and increase fees paid to CEPEP workers by 15% from December 1, 2019.
* Increase wages of URP workers by 15% from December 1, 2019.
* Daily-paid workers in Public Service be eligible for minimum Public Service pension of $3,500/month. This will be a contributory pension plan. Will take effect in 2020.
* Ban importation of styrofoam in the food industry and to terminate use of plastic water bottles in government offices from January 1, 2020.
* Removal of all taxes and duties on all inputs for farmers. Farming to become a tax-free industry.
* $3 billion in interest-bearing government bonds to registered VAT businesses to meet their VAT arrears. Tenure of 5 years and interest of 1.5% per annum.
* New operator for the Magdelena Grand in Tobago. Hotel to be rebranded under the new operator.
* 25 buses will be on roads by December 2019 powered by CNG.
* T&T Revenue Authority will become operational in fiscal 2020.
* Point Fortin highway scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020.
* Curepe Interchange to be commissioned by March 2020.
* New license plates for more security and to prevent fraud.
* Parking meters in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando.
* Traffic tickets to be paid through TTPost, freeing up the courts from the burden of ticket fines.
* Two new state-of-the-art fast ferries in 2020.
* Restoration of President's House is nearing completion and will soon be occupied by the president.
* Heritage Petroleum Limited already profitable. Revenue of $3.287B in first three quarters resulting in net profit of $543.5M.
* bpTT made payment of $1B in 2019 and Shell US$282M or $1.9B as settlement of arrears and legacy payments.
* Replacement of all incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient ones to households free of charge across Trinidad and Tobago - 400,000.
* 6,000 new houses by December 2020 and 3,000 per annum thereafter.
* New housing loan initiative where low-interest loans will be made available with Govt guarantees up to $300,000 to people who want to build their own homes.
* New Sangre Grande hospital due in November 2021.
* $60M Roxborough hospital with commissioning scheduled for 2021.
* Daycare centres to cater for children under three years old for female-headed households who meet necessary criteria.
* Homeless females displaced by conflict, violent crimes etc - proposed centres to be established by the HDC with support of the business community in specific geographical areas, to provide temporary relief to women who are homeless.
* 200 tablets for police vehicles for immediate referencing of traffic offenders, 50 dashboard cameras, 300 body cameras, surveillance drones, polygraph equipment & drug-testing equipment for police officers.
* Approval to THA to utilise bond financing up to $300M to finance critical projects based on credit-worthiness of THA.
- Sampson Nanton, Lead Editor - Content Distribution, Guardian Media Limited