Tuesday 26th December, 2006


Govt plans to hasten transport projects

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INFLATION is not insurmountable, says Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

Even as he detailed the Government’s intention to go full speed ahead with transport and industrial projects for 2007, Manning, in his Christmas address to the nation, labelled inflation a “challenge,” but said his administration’s goal was to reduce it to seven per cent in the short term.

The Prime Minister said projects like the rapid rail were in their final tendering stages or were about to be awarded their contracts.

“Negotiations shall now begin with the final two contractors to determine a preferred tenderer, so that work on the first phase could start on the rail from Port-of-Spain to Curepe, extend all the way to Sangre Grande; and later be built from PoS to San Fernando and further South.”

Contracts will also be awarded in January for the extension of the Solomon Hochoy highway from Golconda to Debe and for the dualling of the South Trunk Road from San Fernando to Mosquito Creek.

Meanwhile, contracts for construction of the highway from San Fernando to Princes Town, the flyover in the area of Powder Magazine, Cocorite, and the widening of the Diego Martin highway from Victoria Gardens to Four Roads are to be awarded within the next three months.

According to Manning, significant steps to diversify the economy and strengthen the country’s industrial base will be taken during 2007.

This includes current construction of the US$1.2 billion petrochemical facility, for the production of melamine, urea, ammonium nitrate and, early in the new year, the new Essar iron and steel complex.

These projects are being made possible through foreign investments equalling more than US$8 billion during the past five years, said Manning.

Also, the Minister of Finance added that the Government was reordering its capital programme, managing liquidity, improving the availability of labour and encouraging increased agricultural production.

“With the present level of development, the quantum leap in employment and the impact of the global economy, it is inevitable that there would be a rise in prices in this country.”

Looking towards the future, he said:

“With transparency and accountability, this administration is deploying very significant resources towards the tremendous development that this country has been experiencing over the last five years.”

The Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, which has moved from $415.3 million in 2001 to $8.6 billion in 2006, was one such future resource listed by Manning.

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