Apple Leisure Group to take over management of Magdelena Grand Resort

American travel and hospitality conglomerate apple leisure group is close to expanding its footprint with a possible take over of the Magdelena grand beach and golf resort in Tobago.

During a post-budget meeting today, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that an agreement is being finalized with one of the group's subsidiaries.

Its a move he says could boost the tourism sector on the island.

Reporter: Jesse Ramdeo

Gabriel Faria: “Need bolder moves towards diversification.”

Chief Executive of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Gabriel Faria, says while some steps have been taken towards transforming the economy, government needs to make even bolder moves towards embarking on proper diversification.

The TT Chamber CEO was commenting on several business friendly initiatives announced by the Finance Minister, during yesterday’s budget presentation.

He applauds government for the various initiatives created to increase private sector involvement in the economy, particularly in housing, construction and the export sector.

Secretary Jack: “Tobago bonds will be attractive.”

Finance Secretary in the Tobago House of Assembly, Joel Jack, says he is looking forward to the THA being able to raise its own funding on the international market.

During yesterday’s budget presentation, the Finance Minister indicated that the Assembly now can use bond financing valued at $300 million to fund critical development projects. In addition, some $2.283 billion from the national budget has been allocated to Tobago.

Dr Bhoe Tewarie: “Regulate gaming and improve revenue collection.”

Former Planning Minister, Dr Bhoe Tewarie, says government must find ways to regulate the gaming industry.

Yesterday, the Finance Minister announced that regulations for the Gambling, Gaming & Betting Bill is being re-examined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, and that government hopes to set up the Gaming Commission within the next three to six months.

Central Business Chambers: “2020 fiscal package is an election budget.”

Business Chambers in central Trinidad share the view that the 2019-2020 fiscal package is clearly an election budget.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Ramchand Rajbal-Maraj, president of the Couva-Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, said the budget did not speak of diversifying the economy. He said instead, the country got "re-hashed ideas" laid before the parliament.

Public Utilities Minister: “2020 Budget all about reducing the deficit and poverty eradication.”

Public Utilities Minister, Robert Le Hunte, says government is moving to reduce its deficit financing, in order to bring back balance in the economy.

The 2020 fiscal package is expected to have a deficit of roughly 5.28 billion dollars. The overall budgetary allocation is some 53 billion dollars, which some describe as fairly conservative, given government’s revenues of just under 48 billion dollars.

Businessman robbed at gunpoint

A 53-year-old businessman and a 13-year-old boy were among a group of people that were robbed at gunpoint at a business establishment in Valencia.

According to a police report, at about 9 pm on Saturday, the businessman was conducting sales, in the presence of a close female relative, a customer and the 13-year-old boy, when four armed men entered the business place and announced a hold-up.

Police said they were armed with guns and cutlasses.

Kamla: Budget was the final rites to bury the economy

While Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar yes­ter­day ex­pressed de­light with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert’s pro­pos­al to in­crease the min­i­mum wage from $15 to $17.50 an hour for 194,000 low in­come work­ers across the coun­try, she feels the pay hike was in­suf­fi­cient as it should have been $20 an hour in­stead.

This was how Per­sad-Bisses­sar re­spond­ed at a press con­fer­ence at the Par­lia­ment Build­ing, Port-of-Spain, min­utes af­ter Im­bert de­liv­ered his $53 bil­lion 2019/20120 bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.