Rowley: ‘Back door’ to IMF
PORT-OF-SPAIN – Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley warned that the five-member coalition People’s Partnership government was using a “possible back door” approach in taking Trinidad and Tobago to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), yesterday.
Responding officially to the TT$54.6 billion (US$1.9 billion) budget presented to Parliament last Monday, Rowley told legislators that the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration had deliberately pegged the fiscal package to an oil price of US$75 dollars a barrel, knowing full well it could well lead to a shortfall in the budgetary process.
He said such an approach would allow for the oil-rich twin island republic to seek assistance from the IMF given the fact that since coming to office in May 2010, the government has been operating on a deficit budget that has been increasing.
“… so we have a weak and uncertain revenue outlook, falling energy prices and an increasing possibility that we may have double dip recession. However, for the second year running budgeted expenditures are increased from $51 billion last year to $54.6 billion in 2012.“How long are we going to continue with this? Are we the Caribbean Greeks? This government came into office saying that the treasury was empty, that the economy was in a mess that government debt was out of control?
“And what have they done? Increased the borrowing limit, increased uncertainty about the future and destroyed investor and consumer confidence, kill the capital expenditure budget and slow the economy down”.
Finance Minister Winston Dookeran last Monday told legislators that the budget was based on an oil price of US $75per barrel and a gas price of US $2.75 per mmbtu and that the coalition government estimates a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.7 per cent and an average inflation rate of seven per cent. (CMC)