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Minister of Finance Colm Imbert

The Dr Keith Rowley administration wants the Parliament to allocate another $3 billion for it to spend this fiscal year according to documents sent to Members of Parliament.

On Friday, the Standing Finance Committee will be asked to consider “the Provision of $3,081,703,900 to fund urgent and critical Recurrent and Capital Expenditure to September 30, 2022, in areas where insufficient or no allocation was provided.”

In October, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced a budget of $52.4 million with an expected oil price of US$65 per barrel and gas set at $US$3.75 per mmbtu.

Energy prices have far exceeded these estimates as a result of the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict and tight supply/demand equilibrium in global energy markets.

Since the reading of the budget last October, the Government has raised the price of super and premium gasoline by $1 a litre, citing high energy prices and a burgeoning subsidy and diesel by 50 cents per litre.

In seeking the additional $3 billion, government has allocated 10 per cent of the increased budget to pay for the higher fuel subsidy, which moves from $400 million to $700M—a variation of $300 million.

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Stuart Young, in an interview on CNN, acknowledged that despite the favourable energy prices, the Government would have to use most of the additional revenue to cover bills and expenses.

According to Parliament’s Agenda, the decision to seek the increase in funding is as a result of the review of the Recurrent Expenditure and the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) which was conducted by the Ministry of Finance.

The additional funding is being sought for 28 government ministries and agencies.In the listing, more than half of the $3 billion sum is set to be allocated to transfers and subsidies, with $1,794,160,500 being requested.

Across the various agencies, a common request was made for additional funding to pay salaries or gratuities that were still outstanding to staff.

Having been a centre of the country’s response to the COVID pandemic, the Government will seek on Friday to bolster the Ministry of Health with an additional $362,887,700.

Of that amount, $12,500,000 is set to facilitate the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines for children and adults.

T&T is currently awaiting vaccines which have been cleared for use by children aged 5-11.

The Government will seek an additional $408,400,000 for the Ministry of Public Utilities. The vast majority of the new allocation ($328,000,000) is to be given to the Water and Sewerage Authority.

The money is to allow Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to meet the payment of wages and salaries to September 30, 2022. The document lists this total at $150,248,000.

Another huge chunk of the allocation is part of the outstanding payment on a US$60 million loan facility to meet pament obligations to Desalcott. This item is listed at $161,325,000.

Another $35,000,000 is allocated to the Public Utilities Ministry for a Community Water Improvement Programme which is set to oversee 34 projects.

The Ministry of Public Utilities allocation also listed a request for $2,382,000 for a renewable energy incentive, namely the procurement of two Wind Lidar Units and ancillary equipment.

A request for $18,000,000 was also made for additional transmission Infrastructure to move power from TGU to National Grid. This sum will be used, according to the listing to facilitate the establishment of a Union Estate Gandhi Village 220kv Double Circuit.

A sum of $12,000,000 has also been requested to pay refunds owed to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) arising from the 25% and 35% rebate granted to all Rate A (domestic) customer accounts with electricity billings of $300 or less.

The Ministry of Finance is set to request an additional $225,966,500, of which $125,966,500 is to be granted to supplement the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF). This, the agenda stated would enable the Ministry of Trade and Industry to pay VAT and other costs associated with the Construction of the Phoenix Park Industrial Estate in the sum of $92,066,500.

This item also reportedly would facilitate the Ministry of National Security’s establishment of the South Office of the Immigration Division, which is set to be housed at a property located at 32 St James Street, San Fernando.

The Tobago House of Assembly is set to receive an additional $60,000,000.This funding, the agenda stated, is to be used to facilitate the payment of outstanding debts to the National Helicopter Services Ltd (NHSL) for the period November 2019 to February 2022.

This has been listed at $27,800,000. The rest of the allocation is set cover money owed to T&TEC for the period 2017 to 2021, which was listed at $19,000,000.

The remainder of the allocation—$13,200,000 is expected to cover gratuities owed to individuals who completed contract appointments over the period 2017 to 2021.

The Office of the Prime Minister is set to request an additional $59,961,300. $4,293,000 of that total is to be used to pay of outstanding fees owed to Commissioners and Legal Counsels who were appointed to a Commission of Enquiry to examine and enquire into aspects of the management of the land acquisition process carried out by the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) with respect to the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension from San Fernando to Point Fortin.

The Ministry of National Security will request a further $206,900,000. Much of the requested allocation is expected to be used to cover payments to staff with salaries and cost of living allowance totalling $16,000,000—overtime for monthly paid officers tallying $10,900,000, allowances—$9,000,000 and government’s contribution to NIS—$6,000,000.

The request was also made to cover shortfalls in allocations to enable the payments of remuneration to officers within the Fire Service and Prison Service for the period July to September 2022, the agenda said.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will receive an additional $76,300,000 of which the bulk, $67,000,000, is expected to be used to allow the Housing Development Corporation to pay contractors for the provision of waste disposal, building maintenance and janitorial services.

The remaining $9.2m is set to facilitate payment of principal ($8,916,337) and interest ($383,663) on a Udecott three-year fixed rate term loan facility for the design and construction of Phase 1 of the Piccadilly Street Urban Regeneration Project.