More money for ministries.
A total of $2.9 billion in additional funding is being provided for 14 ministries and agencies for a range of expenses from national security covert operations and COVID protective wear for prison officers to upgraded voter registration systems – and a further $33 million for the Clico probe.
Sums for the various agencies were presented by Government ministers who were grilled by Opposition members during yesterday’s meeting of Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC).
Proposed sums for ministries and agencies – including the Police Service were examined to supplement and variate allocations given in the 2021 budget.
The Budget had totalled $49.5 billion. It’s expected Parliament will meet tomorrow to approve a bill to finalise the supplementations for the budget and the mid -year review will also be done then.
In the review Government will detail T&T’s financial situation amid the COVID pandemic and the 2021 budget’s performance.
Contents are expected to include relief measures including business incentives, details to kick-start the economy– including sale of state entities– and budget plan updates.
In yesterday’s SFC deliberations, highest sum out of the $2.9 927, 600,002b went to Public Utilities which received supplementary funding of $944.5 million
Second highest went to National Security – $725.9 million.
The Police Service got an additional $57.7 million. Variation of expenditure was also done with $107. 3 million shifted from Finance to the Prime Minister’s office (which got an increase of $10m), Agriculture ( $57.3milion) and Social Development ( $40 million).
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said there was a shortfall in 2021 allocation and the ministry now needed supplementary funding.
UNC MP Roodal Moonilal questioned extraordinary expenditure of $30million for what was listed as “covert operations” needed for the next three /four months .
Hinds said funding was for agencies including the Witness Protection Programme, Transnational Organisation Crime Unit, Counter Terrorism Unit, coastal radar system.
He added funding included for obtaining vehicles to carry out covert ops, do repairs and modern cutting edge techniques for surveillance and that type of work
National Security funds also cover PPE for prison officers, inmates’ housing and lifeguards equipment, training and uniforms for when beaches reopen.
Hinds said special arrangements are being made for maintenance of the two new Austal-built Coast Guard vessels coming to T&T by end of July.
He said Government anticipated they wouldn’t have the skills or parts in this part of the world and is aiming to have the manufacturers provide service and support for a period until that expertise is acquired by the Coast Guard..