Speaker, I rise to present to this Honourable House and
the Nation, the Appropriation Bill for fiscal year 2007.
Mr Speaker, for me it is an honour to present this, the
fifth Budget Statement of this Peoples National
Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Government I wish to thank
all the individuals and organisations, in the public and
private sectors, as well as the civil society organisations
who have contributed to the formulation of this Budget.
I must pay tribute to the hard working and dedicated officers
in the public sector who continue to provide exceptional
service to all our citizens. The quality of their work
is evident in the accompanying documents which form part
of the national Budget process. These public officers
must be commended for their professionalism.
I must also express my gratitude to my Cabinet colleagues
and other members of the Government for their contributions
and invaluable input.
Mr Speaker, Trinidad and Tobago is rich in natural resources,
specifically oil and natural gas, and the challenge is
to ensure that while we build a stronger economy, the
gains for some do not come at the expense of others, but
all our citizens share in our countrys economic
As a result, we have given priority to the investment
of our oil and gas revenue in the key public services
of education, health, housing and national security. We
are also investing in the social services; building stronger
communities; and upgrading infrastructure. We aim to develop
a country that boasts of world class public services which
are easily and readily available to all our citizens.
Mr Speaker, the current transformation of Trinidad and
Tobago is the most ambitious in the history of our nation
but we still have much further to travel; with so much
untapped potential and so many unsatisfied needs, we owe
it to ourselves to build on our recent achievements.
Our future course of action must accomplish therefore,
a proper path towards sustainable, lasting and equitable
economic growth growth that serves broad social
objectives over the long term or what I call high quality
Mr Speaker, in 2001 when this administration re-entered
office, we embarked on a journey to make Trinidad and
Tobago a developed country in the shortest possible time.
We knew that, despite the availability of our financial
resources, this journey would not be easy because it meant
confronting a sometimes unfriendly international environment;
in many cases, changing deeply-entrenched tendencies,
dealing with some self-centered agendas and addressing
our own perception of ourselves.
Mr Speaker, for some time this Government has been advocating
a foreign policy position which has at its core the protection
of Trinidad and Tobagos sovereignty. We have been
at the forefront of many international initiatives one
of which has been honouring our commitment to the International
Criminal Court of Justice.
In doing so we have had to reiterate our position even
in the face of being denied participation in US military
training programmes for the last four years.
However, Mr Speaker, we remained steadfast in our position
and took every opportunity both here and abroad to reaffirm
that position. Mr Speaker, just last week on my visit
to Washington to address some members of the Congress
I again made the position of Trinidad and Tobago quite
Mr Speaker, our position on this issue has been vindicated
because just yesterday, the Government of the United States
announced that Trinidad and Tobago is among 21 countries
which have been granted a Presidential waiver of the US
requirement for exemption from Article 98 of the International
For the last five years, we have journeyed on, facing
many setbacks; some of those we anticipated and indeed
some new ones that we had not envisaged. But through it
all we have stuck to our mission and we have achieved
many successes. But the journey is long and we still have
far to go; we recognise this and we intend to continue
to move ahead.
Mr Speaker it is for this reason that the Government has
chosen as the theme of this years budget, Vision
2020: Moving Onward.
Mr Speaker, the strategy employed to achieve Vision 2020
is to use the revenue derived from the high international
prices currently being obtained for our energy resources,
to develop a non-energy economy that is diversified, dynamic,
internationally competitive; one capable of generating
self-sustaining growth with high quality jobs and improved
services to all our population.
We recognised from the onset, that in order to do this
we needed to develop innovative people, to encourage a
competitive business climate, upgrade and modernise our
physical infrastructure, and to promote effective government
to drive the process.
But our Vision 2020 Plan mandates even more than that.
In particular, Mr Speaker, for us it implies the nurturing
of a caring society that ensures that poverty is rapidly
reduced and eliminated; that the foundation of our society
continues to be based on the creation of strong families
with high moral and ethical values; that all our citizens
have access to adequate and affordable housing and first
class health-care that enable them to live healthy lifestyles;
and that we put in place systems to support the most vulnerable
in our society.
This Budget builds on what we have been doing towards
the achievement of these objectives and is designed to
guarantee the security of our countrys future.
This is our vision and this we will achieve.
Mr Speaker, our exceptional football team, the Soca Warriors
has taken the world by storm, and I hasten to add, if
they were impressed with us in Germany then just wait
until they see us in South Africa in 2010.
Our citizens continue to excel internationally in various
areas of sport, culture, and academics. Similarly, our
economy is buoyant, our energy sector is internationally
competitive, our manufacturing sector continues to be
the strongest in the Caribbean and our financial sector
is poised for takeoff.
Mr Speaker, over the last five years the economy of this
country has doubled.
This was achieved through a combination of good policies
and favourable commodity prices which have stimulated
high quality economic growth and have resulted in a low,
single digit unemployment rate the likes of which this
country has never experienced.
This economic expansion has been taking place in the context
of an increasingly open economy with a buoyant foreign
exchange market; a competitive exchange rate; consistent
balance of payments surpluses; a healthy build-up of official
reserves; prudent fiscal management; and sustainable debt
Not many developing countries in the world have been able
to achieve this economic performance is one that. Let
me therefore share with the nation how we were able to
achieve our successes.
Our strategy had three essential and inter-dependent components.
The first component of our strategy was implemented when
we liberalised the economy. From the beginning of the
1990s price controls were removed. The trade system was
liberalised as import restrictions were eliminated, tariff
structures rationalised, and the domestic currency was
made fully convertible.
Indeed Mr Speaker, markets and the private sector responded
and we have witnessed the solid growth rates associated
with financial and economic stability.
In short, these measures collectively provided the environment
for the vibrant private sector activity that we see today
in Trinidad and Tobago.
The second component of our strategy was to stabilise
the economy. We made decisive progress towards an environment
of low inflation through appropriate fiscal and monetary
policies. Our budget and external balances were made sustainable
and we have achieved the credibility associated with strong
The third essential component of the strategy was the
creation of the institutions and markets that are needed
for a competitive economy to function effectively and
to serve the broad and higher objective of high quality
growth. This is the most complex and time-consuming part
of the strategy. It requires a change in our systems of
delivering services and it is something to which this
Administration is very committed.
Mr Speaker, the Government has not forgotten the social
implications of economic reform. We have put in place
transitional arrangements to help address the social cost
of the economic restructuring. Many of our citizens have
suffered hardships during the economic restructuring process
and we have created mechanisms to assist them in becoming
much more able participants in the new economy. Yet, at
the same time we have ensured that the less fortunate
in society have the wherewithal to maintain a reasonable
standard of living.
Our economic policies have set the stage for an increasingly
competitive, flexible and dynamic economy.
We have been successful but the world is ever changing
and it is necessary for us to take stock of where we are
and determine if we are on the correct path. As we do
this, we recognise that we have much further to go, but
we are moving onward to developed country status.
Mr Speaker, the economic performance of this country over
the past decade has been enviable to say the least. But
let me emphasise, that while we have had and continue
to face several challenges, we can boast of a large number
of significant successes. Permit me to catalogue some
of the major achievements of the past year.
In 2005, our real GDP, which is a measure of the goods
and services we produce, rose by 8 per cent and is projected
to grow by 12 per cent by the end of fiscal 2006, putting
the average increase in real GDP since 2001 at 8.7 per
This means, Mr Speaker, that our GDP per capita, which
is a crude indicator of average incomes in our society,
rose from US$6,970 in 2001 to US$13,978 in 2006. This
level puts us among the higher income emerging countries
in the world.
Mr Speaker, when we came into office in 2001, we made
the bold assertion that we would implement measures that
would result in the country achieving full employment
in five years or before.
Mr Speaker, those on the other side scoffed at this projection.
Indeed Mr Speaker, the objective of full employment was
made as early as 1995 and I am sure you will recall the
vilification to which I was subjected as a result.
It is now my distinct privilege to announce to this Honourable
House that from October 2005 to June 2006 the economy
created 12,700 jobs, reflecting an average unemployment
rate over the period of 6.9 per cent and this rate is
projected to reach approximately six per cent by the end
of 2006. The accepted international benchmark for full
employment is five per cent given some level of frictional
unemployment, that is, where people are between jobs.
Even so the
signs that we may have already achieved full employment
are evident on a daily basis.
Mr Speaker, our external accounts are robust, characterised
by a significant current account surplus, sizeable foreign
direct investment and a very healthy foreign reserve position.
The Government has kept public and external indebtedness
well under control. In fact our external debt ratio at
7.8 per cent of GDP is extremely low by international
Mr Speaker, as you are aware, this Administration has
pursued a massive programme to provide quality affordable
housing to our citizens through the construction of new
houses by the Government and the private sector since
We have substantially upgraded our health system. We have
introduced modern equipment in our health institutions,
severely cut waiting time for surgeries and provided free
drugs for many common ailments such as diabetes hypertension,
Mr Speaker, to date over 230,000 persons have accessed
the facilities under the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme.
This is a Programme, whereby citizens receive state funded
medical drugs and is another way in which this Government
is committed to making a difference in the lives of our
We have achieved universal access to primary and secondary
education and are well on the way to achieving universal
early childhood education.
We increased Old Age Pension from $720 in 2001 to $1,150
in 2005. We also increased the minimum wage from $7 per
hour in 2001 to $9 per hour in 2005.
We are responding aggressively to the rise in criminal
activity. Kidnappings for ransom have declined significantly
from a high of 58 in 2005 to eight cases at the end of
August this year. May I take this opportunity to congratulate
our security forces for their efforts in this regard and
we make bold to say that anyone who kidnaps someone for
ransom will be caught.
Mr Speaker, we have had many successes but we continue
to work on providing quality service to the nation. We
have listed for the benefit of our citizens some of the
results of our policies which are contained in a document
laid in Parliament today called: Government at your
service: Highlights of Achievements.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that the nation will appreciate
that one of the major challenges we face has been controlling
inflation. We have targeted an inflation rate of seven
per cent but keeping inflation below this target has been
difficult and the rate has risen to nine per cent, year
on year, as at the end of August. On analysis, Mr Speaker,
we note that rising inflation has become a global issue
largely due to high international oil and food prices.
To preserve the living standards of our citizens, the
Government has decided to maintain sizeable subsidies
on fuel and electricity to cushion inflationary pressures.
Another contributing factor to the rise in inflation has
been lagging agricultural output exacerbated by reduced
imports from other countries in the region that have faced
natural disasters. A third factor has been higher import
costs as a result of the direct impact of high international
As a result, reducing inflation is a major priority in
the coming year.
Mr Speaker, I want to repeat that reducing inflation is
a major priority of this Government in the coming year.
Mr Speaker, in the last fiscal year actual revenue was
$38.6 billion while actual expenditure stood at $38.1
billion which included a transfer of approximately $3,159,863,000
to the Interim Revenue Stabilisation Fund. This represents
the largest annual transfer ever made to the Fund and
brought its balance to $8,604,571,812 at the end of fiscal
Of the total expenditure of $38.1 billion we also spent:
$4.1 billion on social programmes;
$2.9 billion on national security;
$2.2 billion on the health sector;
$4.9 billion on education which included $266 million
in direct support to persons accessing tertiary education
Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate);
$5.2 billion for infrastructural investments;
$2.4 billion on interest payments;
When total expenditure is further disaggregated:
$5.2 billion was spent on wages and salaries;
$1.3 billion to maintain the subsidy on fuel; and
$2.2 billion for pensions, including old age pensions.
Mr Speaker, several commentators have accused the Government
of over- spending; of concentrating too much on the construction
of high rise buildings. We have a somewhat different view
and the data suggest otherwise.
We have been faithful to our commitment of saving for
a rainy day and for future generations. But, as a responsible
Government, we must also seize the opportunity to improve
the quality of our education, security, health system,
enhance our poverty reduction programmes and infrastructure.
We are therefore continuing our programme of house construction
to further reduce the housing deficit; we are upgrading
our infrastructural facilities and we are easing existing
Our Government office construction programme will improve
the work environment for our public servants thus helping
to boost productivity, additionally there will be considerable
savings on rental payments for office space on completion
of the exercise.
We are convinced, Mr Speaker, that we have been operating
a very disciplined and transparent expenditure policy,
ensuring that the population gets value for money. And,
Mr Speaker, the population could be assured that we would
continue to be a responsible government.
Mr Speaker, the assumptions that we have used for the
Budget for fiscal 2007 are based on our understanding
of the potential developments in the world economy over
the next three years. These assumptions are:
1. The experts expect international oil prices to remain
over US$60 per barrel over the next three to five years.
In line with our usual conservative approach, this years
Budget is based on an international oil price of US$45
per barrel and a notional net back Henry Hub gas price
of US$3.50 per MMBTU. On this basis, we would expect substantial
transfers to the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund over
the next three years.
2. Real GDP growth will average 6.2 per cent per year.
3. We will reduce inflation to seven per cent. This will
require a halving of the increase in food prices from
between 20-25 per cent currently to 10-12 per cent.
GROWTH AND THE DIVERSIFICATION CHALLENGE
Mr Speaker, the energy sector will continue to be the
main engine of growth over the next several years, with
increased production coming from the existing plants.
The Governments policy towards the industry is expected
to greatly facilitate this process of growth and expansion
in fact the projection is for the doubling of our GDP
Firstly, tax incentives will continue to be offered to
support an appropriate programme of oil and gas exploration.
Secondly, the Government intends to ensure that, in future,
new downstream industries provide significant value-added
and involve meaningful linkages between the energy sector
and the rest of the economy.
Mr Speaker, the petrochemical sector now comprises ten
ammonia plants, seven methanol plants, three Direct Reduced
Iron modules, one hot briquetted iron plant and a gas-processing
plant. Several additional petrochemical plants are currently
under construction. There is also a pipeline of petro-chemical
projects to come on stream over the next two to three
years which will increase downstream activity significantly
as well as generate substantial employment opportunities.
Some of these plants manufacturing mainly ethylene, polyethylene
and propylene will now establish the basis for a plastics
This will complete the raw material base that we have
determined to be necessary for the establishment of the
modern industrial state of Trinidad and Tobago.
This modern industrial state, Mr Speaker, is happily not
only the forte of foreign companies investing in Trinidad
and Tobago, but it is also the area of large investments
by local companies and joint venture arrangements between
local and foreign companies.
Ansa McAl Urea
Ammonium Nitrate Plant
Mr Speaker, Ansa McAl is currently in the process of establishing
a petrochemical complex to produce 300,000 tonnes per
annum of Urea Ammonium Nitrate (UAN) solution. The project
will be located at Union Estate and will cost US$835 million
and create 2,000 job opportunities during the construction
Ammonia/Urea/Melamine Project (AUM)
Methanol Holdings Limited/Clico is undertaking an Ammonia/Urea/Melamine
(AUM) project. The proposed capacity of the plant is 1.4
million tonnes per annum of Urea Ammonium Nitrate and
60,000 tonnes per annum of Melamine. Construction of the
plant began in May 2006 at the new extension of the industrial
estate at Point Lisas. In addition, there is a proposal
for the construction of a new pier to facilitate exports
from the proposed plant. This project will cost US$1.5
billion and employ 2,500 people during construction.
Westlake Ethylene Complex
Mr Speaker, in April of this year the Government and Westlake
Chemical Corporation of USA signed a US$1.5 billion Memorandum
of Understanding for the construction of an ethylene complex
in Point Lisas. Construction of the plant is scheduled
to begin in the fourth quarter of 2007 and is due to be
completed in 2010. The integrated complex will comprise
an ethylene cracker complex and a polyethylene plant complex.
The capital cost of the project is estimated at US$1.5
billion subject to further definition of the venture.
The Malaeic Anhydride
The establishment of a Malaeic Anhydride Processing Facility
is to be undertaken by Isegen (PTY) Ltd, a wholly owned
private company incorporated in South Africa.
This company is a global manufacturer of chemicals for
food additives. The capital cost of the project is US$64
million and construction is scheduled to commence in the
fourth quarter of 2008.
Both the Ethylene Complex and the Maelic Anhydride Processing
Facility will produce over 5,600 jobs during construction
and a total of 540 permanent positions. Most importantly,
close to 6000 sustainable jobs will be generated through
the stimulation of new businesses in a wide range of new
downstream manufacturing activity.
Aluminium Smelter Projects
Mr Speaker, it is proposed that two Aluminium smelter
plants; will be constructed one by Alcoa, at Cap-de-ville
and the other, the Alutrint Project, at the Union Industrial
Estate, La Brea. Mr. Speaker, the Government understands
the concerns raised by citizens regarding the construction
of these smelters.
However, I use this opportunity to reassure the national
community that both plants will met the most stringent
environmental standards consistent with international
practice as determined by the Environmental Management
Authority. These plants will be utilising the most modern
technology to meet the highest international and safety
Additionally, Mr Speaker, the establishment of aluminium
smelters in this country will result in the further diversification
of the economy. The world market for aluminium is characterised
by increasing demand due to increasing usage. This will
impact positively on exports and employment opportunities
in high end job opportunities.
These plants will be highly energy efficient due to the
use of the utilisation of the combined cycle process for
electricity generation which will reduce our natural gas
The price structure of aluminium on the world market when
compared with that of oil and natural gas will provide
a more predictable source of Government revenue.
I wish to point out that Aluminium smelters are already
established in both developing and developed countries
including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Argentina,
Venezuela and Mexico.
These projects are estimated to create up to 5,000 thousand
jobs during construction and approximately 1,500 permanent
jobs on completion. In addition, it is anticipated that
over 850 persons will be employed in the downstream industries.
Mr Speaker, while we are having considerable success in
extending the frontiers of the energy sector, diversification
of the non-energy sector remains an ongoing exercise.
The growth in construction activity and in distribution
services is making a very important contribution to employment
And while this growth is sustainable over the medium term,
we need to set the basis for a more aggressive expansion
of our already robust manufacturing sector, for new internationally
competitive niche activities, and for a greater push into
tourism and financial services.
Mr Speaker, the Government has identified and targeted
seven key industries for intensified developmental focus.
These industries are Yachting, Fish and Fish Processing;
Merchant Marine; Music and Entertainment; Film; Food and
Beverage; and Printing and Packaging. The Government is
now involved in intensive promotional activities to attract
investments in these areas.
The policy package for this group of industries includes
tax and custom tariff incentives, marketing and promotional
assistance, skills training, research and development
assistance and productivity enhancement support. In the
case of the merchant marine, the Government will update
key pieces of relevant legislation and establish a maritime
authority to administer the sector.
Mr Speaker, the Government will boost the competitiveness
of the industrial sector by establishing a National Research
and Development Fund to stimulate innovation and investments
when the Tamana Technology Park at Wallerfield is completed.
This will spearhead technological upgrading in the economy
and the modernisation of existing industrial parks and
the development of new ones.
Mr Speaker, the establishment of an international financial
sector will be another mechanism for broadening our productive
base, increasing our foreign exchange earnings and furthering
economic diversification. Trinidad and Tobago has already
been established as the financial centre of the region.
We are the main capital market for regional governments
and corporate firms.
We have the dominant regional stock exchange, which already
boasts a number of regional listings; and we are also
the home of the Regional Credit Rating Agency, CariCris.
Experts have confirmed that our strong financial base,
our robust balance of payments and our ideal location
are significant attractions for international banks and
investment firms interested in doing business in the wider
Caribbean, Latin America and even further afield. To seize
this opportunity, the Government intends to create the
Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre.
We will create a financial park to house local and international
financial institutions focusing on investment management,
international loans syndication and back office activities.
In addition to the provision of the physical infrastructure,
to facilitate the establishment of the international financial
centre, the Government is intensifying efforts to strengthen
the regulatory and supervisory framework, encourage the
expansion of education and training in finance, and taking
steps to modernise the technological infrastructure.
The expansion in hotel capacity and the new convention
centre being built on the Waterfront will also add to
our attraction as an international financial centre.
The establishment of an International Financial Centre
represents a bold new initiative which promises to give
Trinidad and Tobago the quantum leap to make this country
world class in the provision of financial services.
Medium, Small and
Micro Enterprises Sector
Mr Speaker, Government has recognised the significant
contribution that Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) make
to employment creation and poverty reduction.
As such, the promotion of SMEs has been a main objective
of the Government, manifested through initiatives such
as the establishment of the Business Development Company
(BDC), the National Entrepreneurship Development Company
(NEDCO) and the Enterprise Development Division (EDD)
of the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro-Enterprise
The BDC will work with stakeholders in developing their
new Business Development Facility. This facility will
support clients with their businesses from conception
through growth to maturity and expansion. At all phases,
the BDC will provide relevant services to ensure business
escalation by increasing the levels of loan guarantees.
Mr Speaker, may be considered one of the Governments
success stories as to date, NEDCO has provided training
in various aspects of small business management to over
5,000 persons and granted over 6,800 loans for the establishment
of small and micro enterprises.
NEDCOs newest initiative, the Entrepreneurial Training
Institute Incubation Centres (ETIIC), will further solidify
the viability of businesses in this Sector.
Mr Speaker, these Centres, in a relatively short space
of time, have become a valuable resource to many small
business operators, providing mentoring and advisory services,
Information Technology support, and training in entrepreneurial
development and business enterprise. In addition, the
Centres facilitate an online marketplace where clients
are exposed to buyers from around the world.
Centres already exist in Port of Spain, Barataria and
San Fernando and in fiscal 2007, an additional centre
will be located in Tobago.
Mr Speaker, having outlined our medium term economic framework
and identified the sectors that will take us to economic
sustainability, I will now like to turn to our main budget
priorities for the new fiscal year.
These priorities are:
1 Continuing our focus on enhancing educational and training
opportunities, improving our health services, and reducing
the housing deficit;
2 Intensifying our all-out war on crime, lawlessness and
3 Modernising our physical infrastructure;
4 A new and focused emphasis on agricultural development
as one mechanism for reducing food prices;
5 Providing further assistance to our senior citizens
and increasing the range of support programmes for the
vulnerable in our society;
6 Maintaining our efforts at poverty alleviation; and
Mr Speaker of utmost importance
7 Strengthening family life,
Mr Speaker, I would like to emphasise that all our programmesin
education, health, housing, infrastructure, poverty alleviation;
all our major initiatives have as their ultimate goal,
the strengthening of the family, for you cannot improve
the welfare of the country until you first strengthen
Mr Speaker, permit me to expand on the main initiatives
to be implemented in these areas in fiscal 2007.
Mr Speaker, improving the availability and quality of
our education system are keys to the development of an
innovative and efficient labour force and enhancing the
material well-being of our citizens. Evidence world-wide
also suggests that education and training also contribute
to building confidence and self-esteem in youth and as
such, can help address the current upsurge in youth crime
Mr Speaker, the Governments objective is to create
a system of seamless education from early childhood through
the tertiary level. Government policy is also aimed at
creating a culture where our citizens see education as
a lifelong pursuit; an opportunity to improve their employment
status or simply to expand their horizons.
Currently 72 per cent of children in the 3-4 age cohort
are enrolled in 998 Early Childhood Care and Education
centres, of which 170 are Government and Servol managed.
Our goal is to achieve Universal Early Childhood Care
and Education by the year 2010.
This means ensuring that 600 new centres are fully operational
to cater to the target population of approximately 30,000
This year, there were unfortunate delays in getting the
programme started and work commenced on only 16 Early
Childhood Care and Education centres. In fiscal 2007,
the programme should develop full steam and it is expected
that 80 additional centers will be constructed, each accommodating
Our focus at the primary and secondary levels is to achieve
improvement in the relevance and the quality of our educational
programmes so that they better serve our economic and
During 2006, the Government in collaboration with stakeholders
continued work on the modernisation of the curriculum
of our primary schools and of forms 1 to 5 in our secondary
schools. Given that curriculum is a key element in quality
education we plan to accelerate this process to quickly
devise curricula that are relevant and suited to the dynamics
of our rapidly evolving society. The Government is in
the process of setting up a Quality Assurance Unit to
ensure that all schools meet the highest standards of
accountability, efficiency and performance.
Mr Speaker, today, at the secondary level, there is a
40 per cent completion rate among students taking the
Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations,
that is, students who are certified through the acquisition
of 5 or more CXC subjects.
However, currently only an estimated 7.5 per cent of the
enrollment in public secondary schools represents the
Sixth Form or the Caribbean Advanced
Proficiency Examination group. This equates to approximately
8,025 students out of an overall enrollment of 107,000
Mr Speaker we need to make sixth form education available
to more of our children to make them more suited to a
knowledge based economy and to better prepare them for
The Governments aim is to increase the number of
persons accessing sixth form education to 60 percent of
the relevant age cohort. Achieving this target will involve
the construction and upgrading of several secondary schools,
as well as the purchase of additional sixth form places
from private secondary schools.
In this context Mr Speaker, sites have already been identified
for the construction of 2 Advanced Level colleges.
The Government will also purchase an additional 800 advanced
level places from private secondary schools to add to
the 500 places already purchased on an annual basis.
Mr Speaker, under the Secondary Education Modernisation
Programme there is a magnet school programme, now piloted
at 16 secondary schools. This programme allows students
to pursue special concentration in areas such as Business;
Visual and Performing Arts; Science; Information Technology;
Physical Education; and Languages.
Such training will meet their particular talents and better
equip them for the world of work and afford them technological
empowerment which is critical in the fast paced, changing
Given the benefits to be derived through the magnet school
programme, it is envisaged that more schools will introduce
this programme. The additional specialised teaching resources
and specialised equipment which would be required will
be made available by the Government.
In keeping with the technological requirements of a knowledge
based work force, the Government has embarked on an extensive
programme to integrate Information and Communications
Technology into the primary and secondary schools curricula.
In this regard, computer labs will be established, on
a phased basis in clusters of 60 schools.
Mr Speaker, the establishment of Homework Centres is another
mechanism to help at risk students optimise their educational
opportunities. Homework Centres are designed to assist
students who do not have ideal conditions for study at
home or who have difficulty coping with the work in the
classroom. They are also geared to students at double
shift schools who may otherwise use the spare time in
Mr Speaker, six Home Work Centres are managed jointly
by the Government and the Non Governmental Organisation
- the Human Development Foundationand are co-funded
by the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust Fund.
Two other centres are run jointly by the Government and
the National Parent Teacher Association. During 2005/2006,
the Centres provided educational support to 140 students.
Mr Speaker, I am also happy to report that the Government
has been receiving numerous requests from communities
throughout the country for the establishment of Centres.
I therefore encourage the private sector to partner with
the Government in the establishment of Homework Centres
and also to adopt the Homework Centres model at their
Mr Speaker, the Government is using an integrated multi-disciplinary
team approach for the delivery of guidance counseling
and social and special education services in schools.
This programme is aimed at the early diagnosis of physical
difficulties, mental challenges and sensory impairment
in children which may result in learning challenges. Students
with such challenges are referred to appropriate centres
where they will receive the requisite treatment.
Additionally, auditory and visual screenings are available
for all primary school students. Mr Speaker, these Student
Support Services are operational in 58 primary schools,
and 40 secondary schools.
Mr Speaker, I should note that the Governments very
successful programmes to provide meals, books and transportation
to the school population will continue and, in fact will
For example, currently, close to 95,000 daily lunches
and 40,000 daily breakfast meals are provided. In the
next fiscal year the programme will be expanded and will
also include daily lunches to Early Childhood Care and
Education students. Mr Speaker, the government will continue
to provide safe school transport for students through
a contractual arrangement with the Public Transport Service
Corporation (PTSC) and via maxi taxis. During the academic
year 2005/2006 the Government purchased over four million
This service will be expanded in the next fiscal year
to cater to students who are differently-abled so that
equity can be sustained among the student population.
Mr Speaker, through the School Book Loan Programme the
Government provides books to students at all levels, including
main texts for each subject area. Students of Form Four
enjoy the benefit of receiving 8 textbooks; one for each
subject being pursued at examination level.
Resources are also provided to assist primary school students
to improve literacy and numeracy skills and competencies
Mr Speaker, as part of our goal to improve quality and
standards in the education system, we are reforming teacher
education by transferring the two Teachers Colleges
from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Science,
Technology and Tertiary Education. These Colleges have
been placed under the University of Trinidad and Tobago
UTT will offer a 4-year Degree Programme as pre-service
preparation (and as a prerequisite) for joining the teaching
For teachers already in the system, the Government will
develop professional development programmes which ensure
that teachers continue to upgrade their skills to provide
excellence in education.
Mr Speaker, regarding tertiary education, the establishment
of the University of Trinidad and Tobago in 2004, has
greatly expanded the opportunities for university education
for our citizens and has filled a void in the provision
of science and technology training at the tertiary level.
During 2006, UTT expanded its capacity by incorporating
into its academic programmes:
The John Donaldson Technical Institute;
The San Fernando Technical Institute;
The Valsayn Teachers College;
The Corinth Teachers College;
The National Institute of Higher Education, Research,
Science and Technology (NIHERST); and
The Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry
A proposal is currently being examined to integrate the
Centeno Experiment Station (CES) into the UTT. The proposal
recognises that the Centeno Experiment Station (CES) has
a strong research capacity and its institutional emphasis
is congruent with the UTTs mandate.
Following this, the integration of the Institute of Marine
Affairs, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute,
and specific functions of the Metal Industries
Company Limited will be considered. With the UTT re-configured,
the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts (Costaatt)
will now focus on areas of core competencies in the fields
of health sciences, modern studies, arts and culture and
languages. In the future, one of
Costaatts objectives will be to facilitate the transfer
of its graduates to the University of Trinidad and Tobago
and the University of the West Indies to complete bachelor
degree programmes in areas not being offered at Costaatt.
Costaatt will become a comprehensive national community
college -it is to be renamed the Community College of
Trinidad and Tobagoand will have a fourfold
Preparing students for employment at the paraprofessional,
technologist and mid-managerial level in a variety of
Providing remedial education courses for academically
underprepared students to create a bridge to post
Preparing students for future enrollment in undergraduate
programmes of study; and
Offering short-term programmes that meet the needs of
the communities it serves.
Mr Speaker, this year the Government introduced free tertiary
education not only at UTT and all UWI campuses and at
all accredited private institutions in Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition, a number of scholarships have been awarded
to students attending St Georges University, Grenada.
Moreover to facilitate those with special financing needs,
the Higher Education Loan Programme (Help) was launched
in June of this year. Help replaces the Students
Revolving Loan Fund and the University Students
Guarantee Loan Fund. Loans under Help are for a maximum
of $25,000 per year for three years for students studying
in Trinidad and Tobago and $75,000 per year for 3 years
for students pursuing studies within the Caricom region.
It is anticipated that the number of applications for
this year would be approximately 2,500 and this figure
is expected to increase significantly in the new fiscal
HEALTH AND THE
Mr Speaker, over the past few years we have made significant
strides toward improving our health services, both in
respect of our health infrastructure and the actual delivery
of healthcare. Through a comprehensive Health Sector Reform
Programme we have been systematically building a client-centred
environment with a focus on primary health care. We have
also launched a nationwide campaign to encourage people
to take responsibility for their own health.
In this coming fiscal year, Mr Speaker, we will continue
to expand primary health care facilities, mainly Health
Centres, while decentralising service delivery and management.
Primary health care facilities in San Juan, Barataria,
Diego Martin, Carenage, Petit Valley, Morvant, Upper Laventille,
Debe, La Romain, and St Madeline are scheduled for completion
in 2008, and the construction of the Sangre Grande Enhanced
Health Centre and the Toco Maternity Unit are scheduled
to commence in 2007
The Government will also continue to expand and upgrade
the countrys hospitals.
The construction of the Point Fortin and Scarborough hospitals,
as well as a new wing of the San Fernando General Hospital
are projected to be completed in 2007. The construction
of the National Health Laboratory will also commence in
Mr Speaker, an important element of our health care strategy
is the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme, through which
citizens are provided medical drugs free of charge to
treat some common ailments.
In the operation of CDAP, the Government seeks to reduce
the burden on hospital dispensaries and patient waiting
time at public health institutions by providing additional
dispensing facilities across the country.
In other words, the programme is actively bringing health
care services closer to the population. Another aim of
the programme is to reduce the cost of health care for
all our citizens.
To date 230,000 citizens benefit from this programme and
this number is expected to increase in the coming fiscal
year. Mr. Speaker, a total of 240 pharmacies throughout
the country participate in the Programme.
During the new fiscal year, all the participating private
pharmacies will be computerised in order to ensure efficient
management of claims, distribution and inventory control.
The Information System for the Programme, which will be
completed shortly, will facilitate real-time management
of inventory flows to pharmacies, monitoring of consumption,
quick processing of claims and an overall improvement
of this service to the public.
Mr Speaker, CDAP started off treating three common ailments
and now has been expanded to 11 common ailments.
Mr Speaker, with a view to enhancing our health care delivery
system, the Government will, this year, launch a Community
Care Programme. Community Care refers to health and social
support in non-institutional settings in the community.
It is in fact a multi-partite initiative involving the
Government, NGOs, CBOs and the private sector.
The aim of Community Care is to provide care and assistance
to persons who require it in their own homes as far as
possible or at least, within their communities.
Various models of care will be offered, including home
care, day care, respite care, and community-based rehabilitation
services. Centres will be constructed within communities
to house and provide care for persons in need.
The Community Care programme will increase self-reliance,
dignity and independence of vulnerable groups with the
aid of the family and the community.
The first phase of the programme will be a pilot project
that would provide community-based care options for the
elderly and physically and/or mentally disabled children.
It is now widely accepted that it is easier and less costly
to seek to prevent certain diseases than to treat them.
For this reason, the Government has been putting heavy
emphasis on the promotion of healthy lifestyles, through
education, good nutrition, sports, moderation in alcohol
use and refraining from smoking.
This years budget has allocated significant resources
to promote community and family participation in sports
and recreation throughout the country. Also advice on
good nutrition and health education will be provided through
national and community channels.
The Government is committed to informing the population
of the risks posed by tobacco and its impact on the health
and well-being of the population.
Trinidad and Tobago ratified the Framework Convention
for Tobacco Control in 2004 and the Government is currently
drafting the relevant legislation to give effect to this
Steps to protect non-smokers in public offices have already
been implemented through the no smoking in State-owned
Mr Speaker, the Government proposes to enforce very stringently
this ban and to develop a coordinated programme for national
Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases
Mr Speaker, the Government is also cognisant of the fact
that environmental factors play an important role in determining
national health outcomes. Taking steps to prevent and
control the spread of communicable diseases is therefore
high on our agenda.
With regard to the current strategies to address the disease,
particularly expanding access to anti-retroviral and anti-fungal
drugs for persons living with HIV/Aids, are proving successful.
Laboratory testing, as well as a programme for voluntary
counselling and testing for HIV will be further expanded.
The national HIV Awareness Campaign is being intensified.
The objectives of the campaign include voluntary testing,
counselling, the promotion of safe and healthy sexual
behaviour among the general population; and steps to reduce
the rate of mother to child transmission of HIV.
Family Planning Association
Mr Speaker, this year, the Government proposes that every
community, particularly those in areas where the need
is greatest will be provided with a wide range of quality
health services, particularly in relation to sexual and
reproductive health with special focus on adolescents.
Accordingly, the Government proposes to partner with the
reputable Family Planning Association (FPA) of Trinidad
and Tobago, specialist in the field of sexual and reproductive
health for fifty years, to bring us closer to our goal
of universal access to quality health services. The FPA
has demonstrated the ability to meet the health needs
of people within their various communities.
Mr Speaker, we have allocated $6 million this year to
the Family Planning Association to facilitate increased
access to sexual health and reproductive health services.
Mr Speaker, Trinidad and Tobago is quickly assuming a
leadership position within the region in the provision
of medical services. In February 2006 we took steps to
strengthen that capability to world class standards when
the University of Trinidad and Tobago and Johns Hopkins
Medicine International executed a six year collaboration
and services agreement for the provision of advisory services
in respect of health sciences for both the University
of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government.
Mr Speaker, the initiatives relating to the Government
would involve infrastructure development. As a priority,
the Government will initiate the Port of Spain General
Hospital Replacement Facility and this will become a medical
campus which will include the provision of medical education
and training and clinical research. There would also be
a new Central Trinidad Hospital Facility with inpatient
and outpatient capacity to cater to specific medical needs
of our citizens in Central Trinidad. In addition, a management
review of the San Fernando General Hospital and the Mount
Hope Medical Complex is currently undertaken.
CRIME AND SECURITY
Mr Speaker, we have had important successes in addressing
the recent increase in crime and violence that has plagued
our society in the last several years. Nevertheless, Mr
Speaker we fully recognise that the current level of crime,
and particularly murders is still unacceptably high.
We are committed to reducing crime and lawlessness so
that citizens could go about their daily lives in peace
Mr Speaker, the evidence is clear that the high level
of murders in the society is related, in large measure
to the proliferation of gang activity and the drug trade.
Too many of our young people are not participating in
the numerous opportunities for education and training,
sport and culture, provided by this Administration and
are choosing instead to be involved in self-destructive
criminal activity, which holds their community and the
entire society to ransom.
The drug trade, Mr Speaker, is another menace, which is
ripping away at our social fabric.
Available statistics suggest that a substantial share
of illegal drugs destined to the US and Europe is transhipped
through Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.
Mr Speaker, some commentators are preoccupied with the
question: who is to blame for the current crime menace.
Well, we all must shoulder some of the blame. What is
more important, however, is that if we are to effectively
address the current challenge and bring crime under control,
we all need to play our part. Fighting crime cannot be
the responsibility only of the police, even though they
certainly have a critical role to play; fighting crime
is for all of us.
The Governments role is to set the strategy, provide
the resources and the appropriate legal framework and
lead by example. We need to re-establish our traditional
family values, and the churches, community groups, NGOs
and the business community, all need to play a role, if
we are to eradicate this menace from our society.
Mr Speaker, over the past 18 months or so, a central part
of the Governments strategy to deal with crime has
been the efforts to transform the Police Service.
This multi-pronged initiative has included, for instance,
the re-establishment and expansion of the Homicide Bureau;
increased training for police officers in modern policing
techniques; the establishment of an Incident Coordinating
Centre, comprised of units from the Police Service, Defence
Force and the Intelligence Units of the Ministry of National
Security, to deal with kidnappings; and the restructuring
of the Police Complaint Unit to ensure accountability
and to root out corruption in the Trinidad and Tobago
Police Service. The implementation of the transformation
programme is being facilitated by hands-on technical assistance
from seasoned officers from the United Kingdom.
On the legislative front, Mr Speaker, with the collaboration
of the Opposition, we have been able to secure the passage
of some vital pieces of legislation such as the No-bail
for Kidnapping Act.
Mr Speaker, legislation to provide for the establishment
of the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago
has been drafted and is currently under review. The Government
is also reviewing the Proceeds of Crime Act to determine
its effectiveness. A Financial Intelligence Unit Bill
and Financial Obligations Regulations are being finalised
to ensure that banks and other financial institutions
are guided on compliance, disclosure and monitoring.
Mr Speaker, the active involvement of communities all
over Trinidad and Tobago is critical to the fight against
Dial 555 Initiative
The 555 Anti-Crime Initiative, launched in May this year,
is one component of a comprehensive, multifaceted, anti-crime
Public Education Programme, aimed at mobilising the entire
nation in the fight against crime through collaboration
with law enforcement agencies.
This initiative offers the facility of a toll free number,
accessible from any telephone within Trinidad and Tobago,
whereby individuals may anonymously furnish information
related to crimes of any nature.
The public interaction in this programme is very important
in that it seeks to mobilise the entire national community
to see crime prevention and the solving of crimes as their
Speaker, we are seeking to get the entire nation to be
involved in this Dial 555 Initiative. We would like to
see the business sector, the schools, the communities,
all social groups involved in mutual understanding and
support for law enforcement.
There are several other programmes which are all geared
to helping youth at-risk in order to promote stable and
crime-free communities. The Government and the Police
have supported communities in East Port of Spain and surrounding
areas that are working to eradicate gang violence and
encourage youth to live in harmony.
The Government is lending support to a very interesting
projectthe Pride in Gonzales projectwhich
involves the collaboration of a number of government agencies,
some NGOs and the private sector, all working to improve
the social and physical conditions of the community of
Gonzalez and thereby producing a safer environment.
Mr Speaker, we urge other communities to adopt this or
a similar model of community development and crime prevention.
The Government will support all such programmes geared
towards the restoration of peace and stability in our
Off-Shore Patrol Vessels (OPVS) Mr Speaker, our intelligence
tells us that large quantities of illegal drugs are being
imported into Trinidad and Tobago for trans-shipment as
well as for the domestic market.
It is also clear that the vast sums of money involved
in the illegal drug trade are helping to finance the importation
of guns which is contributing to the current crime wave.
In these circumstances the Governments crime fighting
strategy includes the acquisition of a sophisticated radar
system and three off-shore patrol vessels to conduct drug
interdiction and anti-smuggling operations. Shipbuilding
works on the OPVs will commence following the award of
the contract which is due to be finalised before the end
of this year.
A preferred bidder has already been identified and discussions
are proceeding with a view to meeting this December 2006
The delivery of the first OPV will be within twenty-two
months thereafter. The other OPVs will be delivered within
twelve months of the delivery of the first OPV. In the
interim, the SS Cascadura has been refurbished at a cost
of $29 million as opposed to $120 million to purchase
a similar new vessel.
Mr Speaker, the Offshore Patrol Vessels would be supported
by six fast patrol boats, and fourinterceptors for both
inshore and offshore operations as well as by four armed
helicopters. The Offshore Patrol Vessels would accommodate
both interceptors and helicopters.
Mr Speaker, the purchase of these vessels will be supported
by a fully functional and operational training programme
for every crew member as well as a maritime and support
and maintenance programme that guarantee the availability
of each boat operating a minimum of 300 days every year.
ADEQUATE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Mr Speaker, since 2002, Government has embarked on a major
Action Plan for the Housing Sector in an attempt to increase
the supply of quality housing as well as improve housing
conditions for all citizens.
While the primary objective is to construct 10,000 housing
units annually, that is, 8,000 in the public sector and
2,000 in the private sector, until housing demand is met,
the principal challenge continues to be ensuring that
housing is affordable by attempting to keep prices low
and expanding the accessibility of housing finance.
A mix of single and multi family units is being constructed
on greenfield sites and on vacant sites in existing housing
developments. It is anticipated that:
8,200 new housing units would have been constructed in
the Public Sector during fiscal 2006; and
8,000 new public sector housing units will be constructed
during fiscal 2007.
Mr Speaker, the Governments announced intention
has always been to provide affordable housing and that
is exactly what we are committed to doing. Accordingly,
the Cabinet has taken a decision to increase the mortgage
subsidy to ensure that the units constructed as from September
2002 remain within the reach of low and middle income
The details of the new subsidy scheme will be explained
by the Minister of Housing in his contribution to the
budget debate. What I would say at this stage is that
persons earning between $1,440 per month and $8,000 per
month will continue to be eligible for the houses for
which they originally qualified without an increase in
monthly payments. These persons will continue to receive
a 100 per cent mortgage for 25 years at two per cent with
a cap at $450,000.
Mr Speaker, an individual or individuals with an income
or joint income of $4,000 would be eligible, under prevailing
mortgage interest rates, for a loan of $200,000. However,
under the new regime, that individual or individuals would
now be eligible for a loan as high as $315,000.
Mr Speaker, the increase in the cost will be met by a
higher government subsidy. It is estimated that the increase
in the subsidy will amount to $450 million. The Trinidad
and Tobago Mortgage Finance Limited (TTMF) will administer
this portfolio and would be provided with capital to do
Speaker, the proposed commencement date for use of the
facility is retroactively set to September 2002.
Another policy initiative to make home ownership more
affordable is the increase in the ceiling for the exemption
of stamp duty for residential properties from $350,000
to $450,000. The rate of stamp duty of five (5) percent
will be applicable for the first $100,000 in excess of
$450,000, 7.5 per cent for the next $100,000 and 10 per
cent for every dollar thereafter.
Mr Speaker, this measure will even benefit homeowners
who purchase properties in excess of $450,000.
There are two other innovations of our housing programme
that I would like to note.
Firstly, persons in the $1,440-$8,000 income bracket will
be given the option to increase the amount of their mortgage
to assist in the purchase of household appliances up to
a maximum of $15,000.
This amount will be added to the overall principal and
incorporated in the monthly mortgage payment. A second
feature is that in the event of the death of the mortgagor,
the mortgage liability would transfer to his or her estate.
This means that at any time during ones working
life, unlike in standard mortgage facilities, one is eligible
for a 25 year mortgage.
Mr Speaker, in addition to the programme involving single
family homes, the Government is also implementing a rent
to own programme targeted at individuals who are financially
unable to service a mortgage.
Under this programme individuals will be allowed to enter
an agreement to rent for a period of five years with the
option to purchase.
At the end of the five years, two thirds of the rental
payment will be applied as a deposit towards the purchase
of the property and the rental tenancy will be converted
into a mortgage. If the tenant is still unable to qualify
for a mortgage after five years the option will be extended
for a further three years.
Mr Speaker, the Governments Home Improvement Programme,
which is partly financed by the Inter-American Development
Bank, provides a matching grant up to a maximum of $20,000
for the repair of an existing home. Last year more than
1,000 low-income homeowners benefited from this programme
and it is projected that 720 home improvement subsidies
will be made in fiscal 2007.
Mr Speaker, the Government will intensify its Urban Renewal
Programme in 2007. The Programme has already been implemented
on a limited scale through the reconstruction of Government-owned
apartment complexes in East Port of Spain and San Fernando.
This programme is intended to address the housing, social,
recreational and community needs of the residents of these
inner city areas. Preliminary work on the East Port of
Spain Development Plan will commence shortly.
Caroni (1975) Ltd
Mr Speaker, Government will also make available a total
of 20,254 serviced plots of former Caroni (1975) Ltd for
residential development. Of this amount former Caroni
workers will be given priority access to 6,755 plots as
part of their VSEP package, while the rest will be made
available for purchase by the national community. The
first 1,900 plots will be delivered at the end of this
year while 4,000 plots are expected to be delivered in
Mr Speaker, the Government is very concerned with the
sharp rise in construction costs which have been estimated
to have increased by up to 40 per cent over the last two
years. Much of this increase has been ascribed to the
increase in labour cost and the price of building components.
In terms of the increased building component prices, this
has been blamed on high international and local demand
and the escalation in energy cost related to production
Even in the wake of these price increases, supplies of
essential raw materials such as aggregate and cement have
become uncertain in recent times.
This means that while the Government may ease the burden
in respect of affordability and accessibility, these sporadic
shortages continue to slow the pace of construction.
In respect of aggregate, the Government has now expanded
the quarrying capacity of the industry by the issuance
of new licenses to quarry operators. In addition, the
government is also looking at the possibility of sourcing
cheaper and more reliable supplies from within the region.
National Quarries Ltd, a wholly-owned state enterprise
would be utilised more effectively to impact on the domestic
demand ad supply situation in the construction sector.
Mr Speaker, without high quality infrastructure and a
well preserved environment, our economic and social progress
will be limited and our goal of improving the quality
of life of all our citizens will not be achievable.
As a result, the Government is committed to providing
an efficient and modern infrastructure and public transport
network. It is the Governments responsibility to
provide the modern, high quality infrastructure that is
demanded by our rapidly industrialising and increasingly
The Governments objective is simplethe development
of Infrastructure that Works.
Mr Speaker, the Government recognises that transportation
bottlenecks are causing enormous frustration on the part
of the travelling public, leading to a significant loss
in production and productivity. The plan therefore is
to adopt some immediate measures to reduce vehicular congestion
in the short term while we formulate a long term strategy
to modernise our transportation infrastructure.
The priority agenda for upgrading the countrys road
Improvements to the East-West and North-South Corridors
to improve capacity and safety;
Expansion of the highway network with the construction
of new highways from San Fernando to Point Fortin; San
Fernando to Princes Town; Princes Town to Mayaro, and
the extension of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway to Manzanilla;
The Port of Spain East/West Corridor Transportation Project
which involves the construction of an Interchange at the
intersection of Churchill Roosevelt and Uriah Butler Highway;
Construction of interchanges or overpasses at key intersections
along the East-West Corridor, such as Aranguez, El Soccoro,
Curepe, Macoya and Trincity;
n A Road Construction and Rehabilitation Programme that
addresses road improvements, road resurfacing, rehabilitation
and development of main roads at a national level as well
as local roads in residential areas, landslip repairs,
bridge reconstruction and traffic management measures;
Dualling of the Diego Martin Highway from Victoria Gardens
to Acton Court;
Improvement to Maraval AccessSaddle Road from Rapsey
Street to Valleton Avenue;
Road Rehabilitation and Bridge Reconstruction being undertaken
through the National Highways Programme; and
n To improve the coordination and effectiveness of the
various proposals we will establish a Roads Authority
to manage and maintain all roads.
In addition Mr Speaker, to provide further ease to the
travelling public, the Public Transport Service Corporation
(PTSC) will be provided with the resources to facilitate
safe, reliable and effective transportation services to
the various communities across Trinidad and Tobago.
In fiscal 2007, PTSC will acquire 100 new buses for the
provision of improved services along the east/west and
north/south corridors, in Port of Spain and San Fernando,
and in several rural areas. These buses will include the
longer articulated type, the standard 49-seater units,
and a number of specially built units for use in the provision
of Tours and Charters services. Additionally, special
consideration will be given to transportation for specially-abled
These new buses will substantially reduce the time spent
by commuters in waiting for service at the various destinations.
Twenty five of the buses are expected to be in full operation
before the end of this year with the remaining seventy
five to be placed into operation during the first quarter
Mr Speaker, in this overall context of curbing the wastage
of valuable productive time in traffic gridlock, the Government
is currently examining the feasibility of introducing
water taxis; having heavy duty vehicles operate outside
peak traffic hours; and introducing flexitime working
hours within certain areas of the public service. In addition,
Mr Speaker, the Government will be instituting measures
to curtail the importation of foreign used vehicles.
The water taxi service is expected to commence operations
in early 2007, plying a North-South route along the West
Coast of Trinidad. When it is fully operational, we envisage
a service that will allow commuters to travel by sea from
Point Fortin to Carenage, with stops at La Brea, San Fernando,
Couva, Chaguanas and Port of Spain, as well as an express
service from San Fernando to Port of Spain.
Mr Speaker, even while we take these measures, we are
undertaking a Comprehensive National Transportation Study
to inform our transportation strategy over the medium
to long term. The Study is expected to be completed by
the end of this month.
The main objective of the study is to provide a national
transportation sectoral policy that is consistent with
other public policies of the Government. The Study is
also expected to present coordinated national transportation
plans for the land, sea and air sectors that will provide
the Government with a national, systematic decision-making
tool for investment in transportation infrastructure over
the next twenty years.
Rapid Rail Project
Mr Speaker, one element of the Governments plan
is the Rapid Rail project which is expected to provide
fast and frequent service along the East-West and the
Together the two corridors will traverse over 120 kilometres.
The rapid rail system will serve over two-thirds of Trinidads
population and will link our two major cities: Port of
Spain and San Fernando, as well as several towns including:
Arima, Diego Martin, and Sangre Grande. The rapid rail
system will give our citizens and visitors unparalleled
mobility and access to work, school, shopping and more,
and will truly be the backbone of Trinidads transportation
It is anticipated that a Design, Build, Operate and Maintain
(DBOM) contract for the Trinidad Rapid Rail Project will
be awarded by December 2006 and the system which will
be operationalised in phases, will be in full service
by the year 2011.
Mr Speaker, the Agencies responsible for the air sector
have embarked on a comprehensive programme of works aimed
at improving the long term physical infrastructure at
the Piarco and Crown Point International Airports. The
focus continues to be on establishing modern systems and
practices for safety and security of passengers and cargo.
This will redound to the users of the services and facilities
provided at the airports, and will have a positive impact
on the social and economic development of Trinidad and
Mr Speaker, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
will continue its restructuring during fiscal 2007 to
improve overall productivity and efficiency.
The Port Authority will acquire two modern fast ferries;
complete the construction of the Government Shipping Services
(GSS) facility; acquire heavy equipment to facilitate
more efficient handling of cargo; and implement the International
Ship and Port Security Code to improve safety and security
at the Ports.
Mr Speaker, Government will continue its programmes aimed
at regenerating and developing systems to meet ecological
requirements, settlement patterns, promote the productive
use of storm water and mitigate flooding hazards.
The National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO)
has been given responsibility for the implementation of
the following projects:-
A Comprehensive Drainage Development Programme;
A Major River Clearing Programme;
An Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Flood Mitigation
A Flood Mitigation and Erosion Control Programme;
A National Programme for the upgrade of drainage channels;
A comprehensive national drainage study and action plan,
similar in scope to the comprehensive national transportation
Trinidad & Tobago Electricity Commission Mr Speaker,
Government has recently embarked on a drive to conserve
our valuable natural gas resources.
A strategy has been developed for the phased change of
all power generation facilities to combine cycle plants
effectively utilising waste heat from primary generating
A review of the existing power stations at Port of Spain,
Point Lisas and Penal revealed that many of the plants
are old and need replacement. This provides an opportunity
to rationalise the generating capacity especially as the
Port of Spain power station and a large part of the Point
Lisas station are in need of replacement.
An opportunity therefore presents itself to construct
new power generation facilities taking advantage of economies
of scale and also by utilising modern technology to arrive
at a low cost per unit of electricity generated. We envisage
that this will be done at Point Lisas. Meanwhile, a Task
Force has been established under the Standing Committee
on Energy to develop a strategy in this regard.
The Task Force will report to the Standing Committee on
Energy in one month.
Speaker, the Street Lighting Programme initially proposed
eighty two thousand (82,000) new street lights and thirty-six
thousand (36,000) upgrades over on a three (3) year period
at a cost of $626 million.
We are proud to report that this Programme has moved much
faster than anticipated and during this month, we would
commission the seventy fifth thousandth (75,000th) street
light. We must applaud the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity
Commission for this mammoth achievement.
Water and Sewerage Authority
Mr Speaker, two years ago, an initial assessment for the
complete replacement of the water pipelines network in
the country was estimated at $27 billion.
However, a project of this magnitude will require a major
development programme and a review of the existing management
structure at the Water and Sewerage Authority. The restructuring
of the Authority is now under review by the Standing Committee
on Energy and decisions in their regard will be made shortly.
Mr Speaker, the Bi-Water treatment plant at Laventille
was commissioned in August 2004 and presently processes
20 million gallons of treated waste water effluent which
is part of the planned water reuse project producing industrial
water. It is projected that over the next few years this
plant will produce over 20 million gallons per day of
water to industrial users, thereby making an equivalent
amount available for domestic users.
Telecommunications Liberalisation Initiatives Mr Speaker,
Trinidad and Tobago has made significant progress in the
liberalisation of the Telecommunications sector. This
is critical to our industrial development since telecommunications
infrastructure is key to increasing profitability and
competitiveness in the global environment.
The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago
(TATT) has made significant advancement in its operations.
The Authority has issued two concessions for Mobile Services;
and seven concessions for International
Telecommunication Services, Fixed Wireless Access Networks
and Cable Television.
Mr Speaker, accessibility to the technology for all citizens
is a principal objective of our National Telecommunications
Plan. This is being achieved in a very significant way
through our now liberalised telecommunications sector.
Improved service and lower rates in high speed, business
and residential Internet service are already producing
increased usage. Homes with Internet access have risen
from 8 percent to 17 per cent in the past two years and
we expect this figure to increase significantly in the
Mr Speaker, broadband is a crucial infrastructure for
achieving economic, social and scientific goals for the
development of a knowledge-based society.
The Government has an ambitious action plan to provide
broadband coverage throughout the country and our aim
is to achieve on demand availability to at
least 80 per cent of our population at the lowest unit
cost in the Caribbean region by March 2008.
Mr Speaker, the Broadband Services being provided at present
in Trinidad and Tobago are very expensive and out of the
financial reach of most of our citizens.
Further, the broadband services are not available in all
areas across the country.
The plan is to provide cheap and easy access to wireless
Mr Speaker, the National Environmental Policy was revised
in 2006 to take into consideration the rapid industrialisation
of Trinidad and Tobago with the introduction of new types
of industries in our economy; major developments in the
housing sector; and the significant expansion and upgrading
of our infrastructure.
The Policy recognises that the environment is an essential
mainstay of our economic and social development. It focuses
on sustainable management of the countrys environmental
assets and seeks to find a balance between economic development
and the environment.
The Policy is further guided by respect for the community
of life; keeping within the countrys carrying capacity;
empowering communities to care for their own environment;
the polluter pays principle; and the precautionary principle.
Mr Speaker, a permitting system will be applied to require
industries to upgrade pollution control, in the first
instance, to the Best Practicable Technology (BPT), significantly
upgrade plants to the Best Available Techniques Not Entailing
Excessive Costs (BATNEEC); and new plants to Best Available
Techniques (BAT). Pollution control will be enforced through
a system of permits or licences, which will set pollution
limits or performance standards for air, noise, water,
waste and hazardous substances.
The system of permits will also include environmental
monitoring and reporting requirements.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that Agriculture is a very
small but an economically and socially important sector.
In 2004 primary agriculture provided a little over 1 per
cent of the countrys GDP and employed five per cent
of the labour 35 force. However, agro-industries accounted
for 3.1 per cent of the GDP and 45 per cent of the manufacturing
The agricultural sector, if it is to remain competitive,
must respond to the external challenges and address structural
rigidities limiting performance, increased productivity,
profitability and competitiveness.
Creation of Large
Mr Speaker, the Agriculture Sector requires special attention
at this time. With the restructuring of Caroni (1975)
Ltd additional lands became available for agriculture.
We have decided to do a complete review of traditional
arrangements and in this regard will utilise expertise
drawn from the energy sector.
Mr Speaker, to date field identification exercises has
been completed in respect of 6,516 plots of the 7,247
plots allocated to the former employees of Caroni. Of
this amount an estimated 3,824 or 58.6 per cent has assumed
responsibility for their respective plots of which an
estimated 382 have begun cultivation. To date approximately
2,500 former employees have registered as farmers with
the Government and the process is ongoing. The total infrastructure
development cost for these agricultural estates is $590
Mr Speaker, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
has recommended the creation of eight large scale farms
and Government would be issuing requests for proposals
from the private sector for the operationalisation of
Government also proposes to operate two additional farms
in collaboration with the Government of Cuba. Mr Speaker,
Cuba has been successful in the area of agriculture and
Trinidad and Tobago stands to benefit from this arrangement.
In addition Mr Speaker, the Government recognises that
there is need to identify agricultural land and to ensure
such lands are maintained in agriculture over the long
term. Any resolution to the issue of agricultural land
also must address the issue of farm sizes.
Within this context it is evident that the thrust now
should be on the creation of medium and large sized farms,
and on providing the conditions to encourage amalgamation
of small plots into larger economic farm units.
Mr Speaker, as part of the National Agribusiness Development
Programme, the Government will be establishing in the
first instance eight large agricultural estates each comprising
at least one hundred acres. These estates will facilitate
mass agricultural production in Trinidad and Tobago and
will be either Government owned or joint public-private
The locations for the farms have already been identified.
A mission from the Food and Agriculture Organisation has
provided recommendations on the basic features as well
as the infrastructural needs of the farms.
Mr Speaker, these farms will be the catalyst in the Governments
drive to increase the production of food in Trinidad and
Tobago. They will become the new food baskets of the country.
Mr Speaker, we have prioritised several strategic commodities
in which this country has, or can develop, international
competitiveness. These commodities include, but are not
limited to sweet potato, cassava, yam, dasheen, tomato,
ochro, cucumber, melongene, pumpkin, eddoes, cabbage,
lettuce, green pigeon peas, carrots and string beans.
Mr Speaker, in addition, and I daresay more importantly,
the majority of these food crops have been identified
as the main suspects in accelerating the food
prices in the markets and supermarkets. We expect this
trend to be reduced significantly in the shortest possible
time since all the farms are ear-marked to begin active
cultivation of these short term crops within
the next three months.
The production of several of these commodities will also
facilitate a significant processing component.
The Government will provide the funding necessary to implement
projects associated with each commodity. This will include
the cost of the restoration of soil fertility where necessary,
as well as ensuring water availability and access to the
This commodity approach is a significant development as
it will address in a holistic way the challenges faced
with providing adequate food production as well as augment
normal production levels in price sensitive commodities.
Production contracts will be awarded to farmers, and given
the possibility that the prices of some of the selected
commodities can fall to levels that cause harm to non-contracted
farmers, the system of contracts will be complimented
with guaranteed minimum prices that cover the same selected
Mr Speaker, this programme will be structured and operated
in a manner that will provide the platform for stimulating
the longer term improved productivity of the agriculture
The Government will also put measures in place to increase
the rate of participation in agriculture by expanding
the Youth Apprenticeship Programme in Agriculture (YAPA)
and the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and
Forestry (ECIAF). The Government is also introducing the
policy of allocating agricultural lands to the graduates
of these programmes.
Mr Speaker, praedial larceny is the number one complaint
of farmers and must be aggressively addressed by all parties.
Praedial larceny has a disincentive effect on production
causing farmers to either cease production or produce
commodities less likely to be affected. As a result, the
Government will provide funding, manpower, equipment and
adequate logistical support for the establishment of a
Praedial Larceny Police Unit.
The need to provide good infrastructure to support agricultural
production is well recognised. A comprehensive programme
will be put in place to improve agricultural access roads,
irrigation facilities and systems, and flood control infrastructure
and marketing facilities. Mr. Speaker we intend to support
our farmers by focusing on this particular challenge.
In addition Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land
and Marine Resources has embarked on an aggressive support
programme aimed at increasing the number of extension
officers. This will improve the support offered to farmers
at present and will ensure all agricultural land is put
to productive use.
Mr Speaker, to further enhance the resurgence of the agriculture
sector the Government proposes to inject $30 million into
the Agricultural Development Bank to facilitate additional
credit lines to firms and individuals involved in the
Mr Speaker, while our efforts to promote the resurgence
of domestic agriculture will be the centrepiece of our
strategy to reduce food prices, it is by no means the
only action that we plan to take. The Government recognizes
the pervasive impact of the increases in food prices on
the cost of living and on the welfare of families who
need to struggle to make ends meet.
Accordingly, Government plans to reduce import duties
on selected basic food items where they still exist. We
also plan to work with the National Flour Mills to moderate
the prices of certain basic foods. We will also engage
in discussions with several stakeholders including the
Supermarkets Association in an attempt to reduce
margins on certain food items.
Mr Speaker, as tempting as it may seem, the imposition
of price controls is not a painless solution and in fact
it could present problems such as shortages and the creation
of blackmarkets. The Government will therefore only consider
price controls if all else fail.
Mr Speaker, let us turn now to the tourism sector.
Mr Speaker, tourism is a significant employment generator,
foreign exchange earner, and an important contributor
to GDP. The Tourism sector also has the potential to provide
incentives for a range of inter-industry linkages, involving
agriculture, manufacturing and services.
Mr Speaker, in 2005 Trinidad and Tobago received 460,195
stopover visitors and 67,196 cruise visitors. In the case
of stopover visitors, which generate more than 95 per
cent of all tourist spending, this number was 4 percent
higher than in 2004. In the case of cruise visitors, the
total figure was some 24 per cent higher than in 2004.
However, Mr Speaker, the situation in Tobago is not reflective
of the national picture. Tobago experienced a substantial
drop in tourist traffic from Europe in early 2006. This
was due to a combination of circumstances and will need
aggressive and well planned marketing efforts as well
as new airlifts arrangements to correct these negative
trends. The Government will work with the Tobago House
of Assembly in this regard.
Mr Speaker, the lack of high quality rooms in Port of
Spain is currently constraining the ability of the industry
to expand visitor arrival numbers. This should be addressed
somewhat once the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre completes
its refurbishment programme; the 428 room Hyatt Regency
Hotel opens in September 2007; and the 80 rooms Holiday
Inn Express at Trincity is completed.
Mr Speaker, in order to facilitate increased hotel investment
interest in our country, the Government earlier this year
amended the Tourism Development Act to make it more attractive
for investors to develop the new tourism product.
Based on the new incentives in the Act, we expect that
over time more international hotel brands will view Trinidad
and Tobago as an ideal location for investment.
Mr Speaker, the publicity engendered by our Soca Warriors
successful participation in the World Cup, and the efforts
made by the Government to enhance that publicity, have
both played an enormous role in increasing awareness of
Trinidad and Tobago worldwide. Next years Cricket
World Cup also offers an excellent opportunity to further
increase this awareness.
Mr Speaker, how can we take advantage of these opportunities?
Firstly, we are taking immediate steps to upgrade our
beach facilities at Maracas, Las Cuevas, Vessigny, and
will involve a substantial improvement in the quality
of the facilities at the beach to world class standards.
To this end, the Tourism Development Company will receive
funding from the Infrastructure Development Fund to be
utilised specifically for the development of the infrastructure
and aesthetics of these and other major sites and attractions
in Trinidad and Tobago.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, the recent trade and investment
mission to Europe which uniquely combined investment promotion
and culture has opened many exciting opportunities for
investment in Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr Speaker, domestic tourism offers great potential for
hotels and guest houses in both Trinidad and Tobago to
generate incremental business, particularly at weekends,
and to keep valuable foreign exchange within the country.
However, the success of the domestic tourism campaigns
will depend heavily upon increased ease of transportation
between Trinidad and Tobago and it is the Governments
intention to improve the quality of service between the
islands particularly by purchasing two fast ferries, introducing
online booking capability for the fast ferry service and
by enhancing air service.
RECOGNISING OUR SENIOR
CITIZENS AND CARING FOR THOSE IN NEED
Mr Speaker, the Government is committed to nurturing a
caring society, that is, a society in which all our citizens,
particularly the most vulnerable are cared for and treated
with dignity and respect.
Mr Speaker, at the core of the Governments social
development programme is the empowerment of the disadvantaged
groups in our society. However, we have taken a policy
decision to rationalise our all our social programmes
to maximise their effectiveness.
The objective is to provide an enabling environment to
facilitate the continuous improvement in the economic
and social well-being of traditionally disadvantaged groups.
MrSpeaker, the Government is fully cognisant of the plight
of some of our senior citizens and since we came into
office we have introduced a number measures and programmes
designed to improve their living conditions. Mr Speaker,
today our senior citizens have access to free medical
care and drugs; free bus passes; and an old age pension
of $1,150 up from $720 dollars in 2001.
We have established two senior citizens centers, one in
St James and the other in Maloney. Two additional centers
will be open shortly in Chaguanas and Rio Claro.
Mr Speaker, later in this presentation I will outline
on behalf of the Government even further measures to alleviate
the hardships of our senior citizens.
Abuse of Minors
Mr Speaker, the Government is determined to address the
scourge of child abuse in our society and to protect those
vulnerable children who are most at risk of facing a myriad
of negative outcomes including neglect, exploitation,
malnutrition, and even death.
Mr Speaker, we will move decisively to establish the Childrens
Authority following the requisite amendments to the legislation.
The Childrens Authority will, in effect, function
as the guardian of all the children of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Family Support System
Mr Speaker, the family as the core institution in society
has been singled out for special attention by the Government.
Mr Speaker, the National Family Policy will be a blueprint
for creating and promoting a family-friendly society and
for mainstreaming family issues into wider sectoral policies.
In order to ensure the broadest possible consensus on
this most fundamental of issues, the draft policy document
will be presented to the public at a series of upcoming
The Conditional Cash
Mr Speaker, in July 2005 Government appointed a Ministerial
Sub-Committee to develop recommendations for addressing
the issue of rising food prices specifically in relation
to the more disadvantaged groups among us.
As a short-term initiative, the Committee recommended
a targeted conditional cash transfer programme with the
first phase involving a debit card to low income households
throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
The debit card was launched in July this year and target
vulnerable persons and family in need. The programme is
designed to give recipients the ability to purchase basic
food items which are included in pre-approved lists of
forty basic food items.
Mr Speaker the second phase of the conditional cash transfer
programme will involve the distribution of a smart card
and this is expected to be implemented early in the new
fiscal year. The Smart Card programme marks the dawn of
a new era in Social Development assistance, providing
for more efficient and flexible administration, and better
targeting and tracking of benefits. In the coming fiscal
year, the Programme will be fully implemented.
More importantly, Mr Speaker, this Programme is a temporary
measure and will be operated in tandem with skills training
for the recipients to move off the programme.
The Physically Challenged
Mr Speaker, those who have disabilities in our society
are more likely to be poor, particularly when they are
excluded from full access to education and employment
opportunities. The Governments programme for the
physically challenged will be one of social inclusion.
We will embark upon a broad-based Public Awareness Campaign
on the National Policy on Persons with Disabilities and
will conduct sensitisation workshops for Government Agencies
and other key stakeholders. We will also continue to train
personal assistants for persons with disabilities and
complete the standardisation of sign language.
Mr Speaker, the Government has a wide ranging reform agenda
geared to the establishment of a legal and institutional
framework for efficient policy implementation. In the
coming years the focus of this agenda will center on:
n Legislative approval of the Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund; along with the establishment of a Revenue Authority;
and a new procurement regime;
n Capital Market development;
n Upgrading the level of national financial literacy;
n Special Purpose State Enterprises.
Mr Speaker, a Bill to establish a Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund was presented to this Honourable House at the beginning
of September this year and we have engaged a number of
organisations in discussions as we seek to secure parliamentary
passage of the Bill early in the new fiscal year.
Mr Speaker, the establishment of the Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund, which will replace the Interim Stabilisation Fund,
will provide the Government with an effective vehicle
to reduce the vulnerability of fiscal operations to changes
in international energy prices; and to save some of the
revenue from the exploitation of the countrys depletable
resources for future generations.
Mr Speaker, the mechanism for transfers from the Heritage
and Stabilisation Fund will help maintain fiscal discipline
by linking the level of Government expenditure to long
run, sustainable energy prices.
On this basis, a significant share of the revenue to be
derived from the high prices expected to prevail over
the next few years will be saved and invested abroad in
high yielding financial assets.
The management of the Fund will be entrusted to an independent
Board of Governors with the investment operations placed
in the hands of reputable external fund managers. The
proposed legislation Mr Speaker, places articular emphasis
on transparency and accountability and requires that the
Minister of Finance report on the operations of the Fund
on an annual basis to Parliament.
Mr Speaker, following upon the comprehensive tax reforms
introduced in the last fiscal year, we are now in the
process of transforming the human resource and administrative
regimes of our principal revenue collection agenciesthe
Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division
of the Ministry of Finance.
The assumption of the responsibilities of the Customs
and Excise and Inland Revenue Administrations under the
aegis of a Central Agencythe Revenue Authorityis
an important step in this reform effort.
Mr Speaker, the Revenue Authority, which is expected to
become operational by September 2007, would facilitate
improved service and a more client centred approach to
the tax-paying citizens of Trinidad and Tobago; the cross
checking of information; more efficient use of Information
Technology and other resources; and improve tax administration.
The establishment of the Revenue Authority will be guided
and driven by an Advisory Committee which would have broad
representation from the public and private sectors, including
the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce;
the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association;
the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and
Tobago; and the Public Services Association of Trinidad
and Tobago. The Government would insist upon the best
practices in the establishment of the Authority.
Capital Market Development
Mr Speaker, over the years the Government and the Central
Bank have always taken the lead in the development of
our capital market infrastructure which currently is the
envy of the Caribbean. However, if we are to be a major
financial centre, our capital market must continue to
evolve in line with international standards.
Since 2005 activity in the stock market has declined and
this understandably is a cause of serious concerns for
our investor community, as well as for companies listed
on the Stock Exchange.
There is no doubt, Mr Speaker, that an important contributing
factor to the current downturn in the stock market has
been a declining demand by pension funds, which are restricted
by present legislation that limits their holdings of equities
to 50 per cent of total assets in the statutory fund.
This requirement has been in effect for years and was
imposed for prudential purposes since the Regulator has
a responsibility to ensure the financial health and solvency
of pension funds to meet the pension entitlements of the
The Central Bank is working expeditiously to reform existing
legislation governing private pension funds. The reform
will reduce dependence on absolute limits on particular
asset classes in favour of a more general risk-management
Mr Speaker, the Government is also considering taking
more state corporations to the stock exchange.
We are discussing with some of the energy companies the
feasibility of repackaging and listing their local operations
on the domestic stock market, but our local private sector
also has to do its part.
Mr Speaker, this issue brings me to the broader question
of the critical need for greater education to help the
general public operate in our rapidly evolving environment.
Financial Literacy Programme
Mr Speaker, rapidly changing lifestyles have forced the
bulk of the population to open bank accounts, to use ATMs,
to own credit and debit cards and generally to participate
actively in the formal financial system.
The average consumer is now required to make complex financial
decisions such as contracting mortgage and installment
loans, choosing from a range of checking accounts and
selecting savings instruments.
In too many cases, these decisions are made on the basis
of insufficient knowledge and appreciation for the financial
This has been accompanied by a sharp increase in private
consumption and rising consumer debt. Personal savings
have in fact declined and with life expectancy increasing
significantly many workers are ill-prepared for emergencies
Mr Speaker, this is not only so in Trinidad and Tobago
but is in fact a worldwide problem. Accordingly, Governments
in both developed and developing countries are recognising
the need to promote financial literacy programmes to educate
individuals to make better financial decisions.
Mr Speaker, the Government is of the view that it is now
critical that we launch a comprehensive National Financial
Literacy programme to help our citizens deal with the
basics of everyday financial management.
The Government has asked the Central Bank to spearhead
this national programme.
In turn it is expected that the Central Bank will involve
the Ministries of Education, Community Development, Culture
and Gender Affairs, Legal Affairs, the Financial Sector,
NGOs and a host of peoples organisations such as
the trade unions and credit unions.
Mr Speaker, the Financial Literacy Programme will be formally
launched before the end of the year.
Mr Speaker, you will recall that in September 2005, the
White Paper on the Reform of the Public Sector Procurement
Regime was laid in Parliament.
The recommendations emanating from this Paper, some of
which are urrently being implemented, aim at ensuring
greater flexibility, open competition and ethical and
fair dealings in respect of public sector procurement.
The new Public Sector Procurement Regime will be applicable
to all Government Ministries, Statutory Boards, Regional
Health Authorities, Regional Corporations, and State Enterprises.
Mr Speaker, we expect the new Procurement Regime to come
into effect early in the new fiscal year.
As Honorable Members are aware, the importance of infrastructure
for rapid economic development as well as for ensuring
that our citizens are able to conduct their everyday business
in facilities of satisfactory standards cannot be overstated.
In our pursuit therefore to modernise the economy of Trinidad
and Tobago, the timely implementation of capital projects
became an urgent necessity in particular in the areas
of education, community development, national infrastructure,
road development, sporting infrastructure, tourism and
that reason Mr Speaker, we identified a number of existing
state enterprises which had the capacity and created others
to develop such capacity to improve implementation effectiveness
in the execution of Governments capital expenditure.
These enterprisesthe Special Purpose State Enterpriseshave
become in a short space of time and with accountable and
transparent procedures, efficient and effective mechanisms
for advancing the Governments development agenda
and ensuring in the process that the new path we are now
charting would bring the greatest good and benefits to
the citizens of this country and importantly to those
in our rural communities.
Mr Speaker, Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to become
a leader in innovation that is facilitated by the diversity
of our culture. There will be a sustained effort toward
the promotion of cultural awareness and the preservation
of our cultural heritage.
The focus in the new fiscal year will be on the improvement
of the infrastructure for our performing artistes, the
preservation, protection and increased awareness of our
heritage, and positioning our culture to be a catalyst
for national growth and development.
The Government will pursue an active programme to provide
high quality, state of the art facilities for our artistes.
Construction work will commence shortly on the flagship
projects: the National Carnival and Entertainment Centre
and the Academies for the Performing Arts in Port-of-
Spain and San Fernando.
Mr Speaker, our heritage buildings and sites and the traditional
practices of members of our diverse population will also
receive attention. Heritage sites across the country will
be upgraded and given due recognition.
Mr Speaker, the power of Sport to unite the country and
build and transmit positive values and national pride
are well established and undeniable. The achievements
of our national football teamthe Soca Warriors-
over the last year attest to this.
Mr Speaker, the Governments policy in sport is consistent
with engendering a basic philosophy which involves the
participation of the entire population in some area of
sporting activity. Traditionally excluded groups including,
women, children, the elderly, and the differently-abled
will now become active participants in all our sporting
Mr Speaker, the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago,
one of our newly established special purpose state enterprises,
is spearheading this transformation. The company has mobilised
its resources to develop, upgrade, and rehabilitate a
number of sporting facilities throughout the country.
New facilities are being constructed in Diego Martin,
Sangre Grande, Toco, Point Fortin, San Fernando, Arima
and Santa Cruz. We will also construct a National Cycling
Track, an Aquatic Centre and the National Tennis Centre.
In the next fiscal year we expect that these facilities
will be completed substantially and we will continue the
upgrade and refurbishment of other community recreational
Mr Speaker, the Government is of the view that these facilities
should be effectively utilised if they are to contribute
to the achievement of our efforts at nation building.
We will therefore continue to provide grants to qualifying
Sporting Organisations and Associations for the development
of elite programmes in their respective disciplines. This
initiative will address the needs of high performance
athletes to train and prepare for international competitions
and to maintain high performances at international level.
The programme in fiscal 2007 will address a wider number
of sporting disciplines.
Mr Speaker, these programmes have proven to be extremely
successful as demonstrated by the qualification of the
National Netball Team for the World Championships in 2007
and the exceptional achievements of our Volleyball, Cricket,
Hockey, Track and Field and Swimming teams to date.
Mr Speaker, permit me now to turn to Tobago.
The people of Tobago will have direct access to budgetary
resources in the order of $2.025 billion for the next
fiscal year which represents approximately five per cent
of the Total Expenditure. This sum can be disaggregated
as follows: an allocation of $1,324.4 million to facilitate
the recurrent expenditure of the Assembly; $315.7 million
for the regular development programme; and a further $384.7
million to be provided for under Heads of Expenditure
to recurrent and capital expenditure in Tobago.
Mr Speaker, the Government continues to be impressed by
the continuing efforts of the Tobago House of Assembly
to transform Tobago and improve the quality of life of
Tobagonians. Indeed, over the last five years, the Assembly
has made significant strides in ensuring that Tobago moves
As evidence of this, virtually all available social and
economic indicators point to the fact that there has been
a surge in economic activity in Tobago, particularly in
the areas of construction and tourism.
Mr Speaker, the unemployment rate in Tobago is presently
less than five per cent.
They also point to the fact that the unemployment rate
has fallen and the standard of living of the people of
Tobago has been improving rapidly.
In addition, crime on the island, a natural fall out of
the rapid pace of development, is now very much under
control, owing to some innovative steps taken by all levels
of Government; and, particularly, the Tobago House of
Looking ahead, we are once again encouraged by the forward-looking
budget proposals emanating from the Tobago House of Assembly
for the next fiscal year, and many of these proposals
have their genesis in the Comprehensive Economic Development
Plan for Tobago.
Mr Speaker, this years Budget for Tobago includes
n The Special Windward Development Programme;
n The construction of the Shaw Park Regional Recreation
Ground and Cultural Complex;
n The construction of the Bacolet Aquatic Complex;
n Development of Cove Industrial Estate;
n Support for the Domestic Airbridge and Seabridge;
n Assistance to Small Properties in the Tourism Industry;
n The HIV/Aids and Substance Abuse Programme;
n Housing projects at Roxborough, Blenheim, Castara, Adventure
Estate and Courland;
n The Roxborough Town Expansion; and
n Construction of UTT Tobago Campus;
The Government remains committed to ensuring adequate
funding for the Tobago House of Assembly.
We are also very much committed to working with the Assembly
to address the burning issues of the Cost of Living differential
between Tobago and Trinidad, as well as the escalating
real estate prices on the island. I am especially pleased
to announce the Governments intention to respond
favourable to the Chief Secretarys expressed concerns
about foreign ownership of land in Tobago.
In addition, we endorse fully the new thrust of the Assembly
to strive for quality in all aspects of life and improve
the level of productivity on the island.
Mr Speaker, I now turn to the fiscal measures.
Senior Citizens Grant
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that effective
October 1st 2004, the maximum Old Age Pension was increased
from $1,000 per month to $1,150 per month. The Government
has reviewed the distribution of the Old Age Pension,
to be renamed Senior Citizens Grant, and we now propose
the following amendments:
n With effect from October 1, 2006, there will be only
one qualifying income ceiling, that is, income not exceeding
$2,150 per month;
n Under the current system, a person whose income exceeds
$100 per month but does not exceed $1,000 per month receives
a basic pension of $1,050. It is proposed
that, with effect from January 1st 2007, this person will
now receive a Senior Citizens Grant of $1,150 per
month, an increase of $100 per month;
n A person whose income is less than $100 per month is
currently paid a monthly pension of $1,150.
This person will continue to receive $1,150 per month
as a Senior Citizens Grant. In addition this person
will be also provided with an additional allowance of
n The maximum amount paid as Senior Citizens Grant
will be $1,150 per month;
n A pro-rated payment mechanism will be introduced whereby
for every dollar of income over $1,000 per month, the
Senior Citizens Grant payment will be reduced by
an equivalent amount.
Mr Speaker previously, a senior citizen who had other
income including an NIS benefit of say $1,400 would not
benefit from the old age pension payment. With the introduction
of this measure this senior citizen will now be eligible
for a senior citizens grant of $700.00. In addition Mr
Speaker, the senior citizen who previously had income
of less than $100 was eligible to receive an old age pension
benefit of $1150.
With this new measure, this senior citizen will not only
receive a grant of $1150, but would also receive an additional
allowance of $100, thereby bringing his total benefit
to $1250. Mr. Speaker based on the new system all beneficiaries
would be better off and in fact an additional 10,000 senior
citizens will benefit from this measure. This measure
is estimated to cost $136 million annually.
Retired Public Servants
Mr Speaker, the Government has acknowledged that rising
inflation rates have eroded real disposable income in
To alleviate the hardships incurred as a result, I proposed
to implement a minimum pension payable in respect of service
under the Government or other public service at $1,150
The Physically Challenged
Mr Speaker, the Government continues to recognise the
invaluable contribution that physically challenged individuals
make to our society and the special needs and concerns
of these individuals. To help alleviate the circumstances
of these individuals we propose to increase the Disability
Grant from $800 to $900. This measure will benefit approximately
14,000 individuals and take effect from October 1, 2006.
Small and Micro Enterprises
Mr Speaker, due to an increase in entrepreneurs in nontraditional
business enterprises such as light manufacturing and service
based industries and an increase in technology based enterprises,
we propose to increase the entry level funding of Nedco
from $50,000 to $100,000. In additional, individuals who
have completed the payments on their first loan will be
eligible for a second loan of up to $250,000.
Mr Speaker, with respect to our students studying abroad
the Government proposes to increase the tax allowance
from $18,000 to $60,000 per household.
This measure requires amendments to the Income Tax Act
and would take effect from January 1, 2007.
Mr Speaker, to reduce the cost of broadband service and
to make access to the wireless internet cheaper and more
widely available nationwide we propose that telecommunications
equipments required for roll out of internet and broadband
services be exempted from import duties and Vat for an
initial period of two years commencing January 1, 2007.
This measure will require amendments to the Vat and Customs
In addition, we propose to exempt from Vat and Customs
Duty all computer peripherals including cables, speakers,
mouse pads and anti-glare screens. This measure will come
into effect from January 1st 2007 and will require amendments
to the Vat Act and Customs Act.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
Mr Speaker, to emphasise further the Governments
commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles, an increase
is proposed to the excise duty on tobacco products, the
import duty on tobacco products of Common Market origin,
and the tobacco tax on extra-regional tobacco products,
by 15 per cent respectively. This measure will take place
with immediate effect.
Mr Speaker, we also propose to increase the excise duty
on locally manufactured rum, beer and other alcoholic
products by 15 per cent, while the import duty on rum,
beer and other alcoholic products of Common Market origin
will be increased by 15 per cent. Import duties on rum,
beer and other alcoholic products from extra regional
sources will be increased by 30 per cent. This measure
will have immediate effect.
Mr Speaker, the emerging trends in casino-type gaming
activities are of great concern to the Government, particularly
its rapid spread in urban, rural, and semi-rural communities.
The Government is totally against the operation of casinos
and all casino type establishments.
Global research findings have shown that the gaming industry
can destroy the financial security of families, negatively
impact marriages, encourage deviant behaviour among children,
undermine work ethic, cause increases in crime, including
that of money laundering, and give rise to problem gamblers.
The Government is strongly against the proliferation of
these casino-type establishments in Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr Speaker, Section 11(1) of the Gambling and Betting
Act Chapter 11:19 provides specifically that gambling
may be conducted in a private house or a private members
club provided that no money or moneys worth put
down as stakes, paid by way of losses or exchanged for
tokens used in playing a game, is disposed of otherwise
than by payment to a player as winnings.
As a result, the Government proposes to enforce the law
so that Private Members Clubs must operate within
the confines and original intent of the law.
In other words, Mr Speaker Private Members Clubs
cannot engage in gambling activities that involve payments
being made to the house. This law will be reviewed and
strengthened to give effect to Governments policy
in this regard.
We also propose to ban the importation and use of all
slot machines. These measures will take place with immediate
Mr Speaker, as far as the online gaming system is concerned,
there will be no further expansion in the games offered
and the Government is moving to eliminate the entire system.
Mr Speaker, permit me to give a brief analysis of this
M. Speaker, the budget for FY2007 provides for total revenue
of $35,125.9 million, which is $3,561.8 million lower
than estimated revenue collections in FY 2006. The main
reasons for the shortfall are the lower oil and gas prices
used in the revenue calculations for the new fiscal year.
Energy revenue collections in 2006/2007 are budgeted at
$15,239 million or $2,518 million lower than actual collections
last year. This years budget estimates are based
on an average oil price of US$ 45 per barrel while the
actual average oil price in 2006/2007 was $ 63.30 per
Non-energy revenues in FY2007 are budgeted at $19,887.4
million, which is $1,044 million lower than actual collections
last year. The decrease reflects the completion of further
loan repayments from certain State Enterprises and lower
Total expenditure in FY2007 is budgeted at $ 38,054 million,
which is $2,206 million less than last years expenditure.
Excluding transfers to the Heritage and Stabilisation
Fund ($3,160 million), total expenditure in FY 2006 is
$37,100 million. This means that the budget for FY2007
is a mere 2.5 per cent over last years level.
Mr Speaker, I would like at this time to outline to this
Honourable House some important points which are noteworthy;
n In terms of the functional classification, 12.5 per
cent of the budget will be spent education, a similar
percent on social development and poverty alleviation,
eight per cent on national security 6.5 per cent on health,
six per cent on infrastructure.
n With the strong private sector demand for labour, the
budget provides for a reduction in allocations to URP
n The allocation for agriculture has been increased by
almost 25 per cent to $750 million
n There are some significant investment programmes in
housing, water and electricity that are financed partly
through the budget and partly through direct loan financing.
Similarly, the Waterfront Complex is being financed by
government-guaranteed loans to Udecott.
n Transfers to the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund only
become applicable whenever the oil price exceeds the notional
n Assuming an average price of US$60 per barrel (roughly
the current level in FY 2006) the minimum transfer to
this is all around us. Tremendous transformation is at
work. We are heading to stand even taller among the nations
of the world. We are on the HSF, as required by the proposed
legislation, will be $1652 million .
Mr Speaker, the budget documents to be provided to Honourable
Members at the end of this session will include a number
of analytical tables that should help in clarifying the
main points of the Budget for this fiscal year.
Mr Speaker, even on the basis of the very conservative
notional oil price of US$ 45 per barrel, the budget provides
for a small overall surplus of $29 million.
Mr Speaker, since Independence, this country has been
striving strenuously for development. We have made good
progress; but some say the nation could have done much
better. That could be true. In human affairs, there is
always the possibility for improvement. But it cannot
be denied that, as a country, as a people, we have always
been on the move, on the hunt, in search of the path that
would free us completely from the state of under-development
that was our legacy when we attained nationhood.
Now is our chance for that complete transformation. Now
we can remove all obstacles in our way. It is now or never,
Mr Speaker. For the first time in our history, all the
elements have come together.
We have the vision and we have the ideas; we have the
resources and we have the will; and most importantly,
we have the Government that can do it.
Now Trinidad and Tobago can make its giant step into the
future. This is our chance for unprecedented development.
Let us all see the magnificent possibilities that lie
before us; and let us together grasp this golden opportunity
for the sustainable development of our country and the
enduring prosperity of all our people.
This Budget is another important step towards that goal.
It will continue the momentum now visible in every area
of national life. It will improve Education, Health, National
Security and the Physical and Social Infrastructure. It
will make Housing accessible to all, provide Training
for the Young and Care for the Elderly. It will increase
opportunity for creativity, investment and entrepreneurship.
It will strengthen this country as a regional powerhouse
in the global marketplace. It will make our future more
secure and better the lives of all the people. It will
move this country onwards.
I therefore call on all citizens to join the movement
forward. Be inspired by what this nation will become.
Know the part that you must play. Make use of the many
opportunities to improve your lives.
Disregard the cynics and doubters. Believe in your nation
and in yourselves. This country is clearly on the move.
The evident way to becoming a developed nation.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move.
OTHER FISCAL MEASURES
The following measures which would improve the efficiency
of the administration and collection of these taxes will
come into effect January 1st 2007 and will require amendments
to the Income Tax Act Chap 75:01.
In accordance with Governments policy initiatives
to make housing more affordable, it is proposed that further
concessions should be given to homeowners whose properties
are valued at $450,000 or less.
Under the existing law, the stamp duty payable on properties
in general, is as follows:
Where the value of the property-
(a) exceeds $1,500 but does not exceed $350,000, the stamp
duty payable is two per cent of such value;
(b) exceeds $350,000 but does not exceed $450,000, the
stamp duty payable is five per cent of such value;
(c) exceeds $450,000 but does not exceed $550,000, the
stamp duty payable is 7 1ž2 per cent of such value; and
(d) exceeds $550,000, the stamp duty payable is 10 per
However, where the property is or includes a dwelling
house to be used for residential purposes, no stamp duty
is payable on the first $350,000 and the owner/purchaser
is required to apply to the Board of Inland Revenue for
an exemption from such stamp duty.
It is proposed that residential properties valued at $450,000
or less be exempt from stamp duty with effect from January
1st 2007. Further, the rates of duty applicable to residential
properties whose value exceed $450,000 should be as follows:
n For every dollar of the first $100,000 in excess of
$450,000, the stamp duty will be five per cent;
n For every dollar of the next $100,000, the stamp duty
will be 7 1ž2 per cent;
n For every dollar thereafter, the stamp duty will be
ten per cent.
This measure will require amendments to the First Schedule
of the Stamp Duty Act, Chap. 76:01 under the heading Conveyance
or transfer on sale of any Property.
Lump Sum Death Benefit
Section 8(x) of the Income Tax Act exempts from tax lump
sum death benefits paid under a pension plan. However,
the exemption, as presently worded, does not specify that
the pension plan has to be approved by the Board.
It is therefore proposed that section 8(x) of the Act
be amended to specify that the pension plan has to be
approved by the Board of Inland Revenue.
Numbering of Section 8A
The Finance Act, 2006 introduced a new section 8A of the
Income Tax Act. However, there already exists a section
8A of the Act, which was introduced in the Finance Act,
It is proposed the purported section 8A introduced by
the Finance Act, 2006 be renumbered as section 8B.
Section 10B of the Income Tax Act makes provision for
a human resource development allowance. A person is allowed
to deduct 150 per cent of all expenses incurred in the
training and retraining of employees. A similar provision
was contained in section 10E of the Corporation Tax Act.
However, section 10E of the Corporation Tax Act was deleted
in the Finance Act, 2006. By oversight, section 10B of
the Income Tax Act was not deleted.
It is proposed recommended that section 10B of the Income
Tax Act be deleted.
Wear and Tear Allowances
Section 11(7) of the Income Tax Act provides that wear
and tear allowances shall not be granted unless taxes
have been paid under the Lands and Buildings Taxes Act
and Municipal Corporations Act. Further, the taxes have
to be paid in the year of income in which the claim for
wear and tear is made. This condition is quite harsh.
A similar requirement had existed in relation to claims
for mortgage interest but had been amended so that the
claim would be allowed once the taxes had been paid (not
necessarily in the particular income year). No similar
amendment was ever made to section 11(7).
It is proposed that section 11(7) be amended to delete
the requirement that the taxes be paid in the particular
year of income and instead require that they be paid for
the year of income to which the claim relates.
Wear and Tear
Allowances on Buildings
Section 11B(6) of the Income Tax Act prohibits claims
for wear and tear on buildings where a person is entitled
to benefits under the Fiscal Incentives Act, the Tourism
Development Act and the Trinidad and Tobago Free Zones
Act. The purpose of this provision is to prevent the double
claiming of allowances for the same expenditure. However,
section 11B (6) does not include capital expenditure under
section 13B of the Act, which provides for the conversion
of a house into a guesthouse.
It is proposed that section 11B (6) be amended to include
approved capital expenditure under section 13B.
Prohibition of Deduction for Expenditure Incurred in the
Production of Tax-Exempt Income There exists, at present,
some uncertainty in the law as to whether expenses incurred
in the production of tax-exempt income are deductible.
This issue has major revenue implications especially in
relation to banks and financial institutions.
It is proposed that the law be clarified by inserting
a new section 12(l) to prohibit the deduction of expenses
incurred in the production of tax-exempt income except
where these expenses are expressly allowed under the Act.
Set-Off of Losses
Section 16(3) of the Income Tax Act prohibits the set-off
of losses from any trade, business or farming against
income from employment or profession. However, losses
from other sources of income such as rental income may
be set-off against income from employment or profession.
The Board has noted that taxpayers have increasingly been
utilising losses from sources other than trade, business
or farming to reduce their income from employment or profession.
It is proposed that section 16(3) of the Income Tax Act
be amended to prohibit the set-off against employment
or professional income of losses from any other source
of income specified in section 5 of the Act.
Motor Vehicle Benefits
The Finance Act, 2006 introduced section 134(10) of the
Act. This section quantified the taxable benefit in the
hands of employees where motor vehicles and other equipment
are made available to them by their employer. Section
134(10) specifies the benefit as 50 per cent of the wear
and tear or rental value of the motor vehicle or equipment.
There appears to be some uncertainty as to whether a benefit
would accrue to the employee if the employer chooses not
to claim wear and tear on the particular motor vehicle
or equipment. Further, the provision should refer to wear
and tear allowance instead of wear and tear.
It is proposed that section 134(10) be clarified to ensure
that a taxable benefit would accrue to an employee notwithstanding
the employer chooses not to claim wear and tear on the
motor vehicle or equipment. Also wear and tear
should be amended to read wear and tear allowance.
To improve clarity it is proposed that the following assets
be included in the appropriate pool in the Seventh Schedule
of the Act:
(a) Buildings, structures and improvements thereon completed
on or after 1st January 1995.
(b) Industrial buildings and structures under the Income
Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act acquired prior to 1st January
Infrastructure Development Fund
The Government reactivated the Infrastructure Development
Fund (IDF) in fiscal 2006 as a mechanism to facilitate
the acceleration and provide flexibility in the implementation
of its capital development programme.
The IDF was established to finance wholly or partially,
certain capital projects under the Public Sector Investment
Programme (PSIP). It is a mechanism used, in the main,
to finance projects being implemented by existing and
newly established special-purpose state entities, to execute
projects assigned to them by Ministries, the Tobago House
of Assembly and other state agencies.
In the 2006 Budget the sum of $2,300,000,000 was appropriated
for transfer into the IDF to undertake a programme of
capital projects of an equal sum. The Finance (Supplementation
and Variation of Appropriation) Act No 11 of 2006 authorised
the deposit of an additional sum of $750,000,000 which
brought the total sum deposited into the Fund, in fiscal
2006 to $3,050,000,000.
The Fund was augmented by yet a further sum of $2,700,000,000
which was authorised by the Finance (Supplementary Appropriation)
Act No 20 dated September 14, 2006, which brought the
total sum deposited into the Fund in the 2006 fiscal year
The projected expenditure from the Fund for the entire
fiscal year is estimated at $3,178,795,498.
It is therefore quite clear that the strategy of utilising
the Special Purpose State enterprises to speed up infrastructure
has started to yield success. This is evident in the fact
that the projected expenditure under the Fund for fiscal
2006 is 38 per cent greater than the sum originally budgeted.
Structurally, IDF expenditure in fiscal 2006 covered a
wide range of broad categories. Of the total sum expended
22.4 per cent was used to develop economic infrastructure,
55.6 per cent on social infrastructure and 22.0 per cent
on infrastructure which will provide multi-sector and
other services. Among other things, these resources were
Upgrade and expand the network of agricultural access
Develop residential and agricultural plots for ex-Caroni
(1975) Ltd Workers;
Significantly expand the housing stock for low and middle
Accelerate the construction of infrastructure for the
university of Trinidad and Tobago;
Upgrade and expand sports and cultural facilities throughout
Trinidad and Tobago as well as construct community centres;
Improve our road network, address drainage problems and
develop public buildings;
Provide infrastructure in local government regions;
Significantly improve street lighting and address needs
for sanitary services and water;
Upgrade and construct primary schools, expand and upgrade
secondary schools to facilitate deshifting and construct
early childhood centres;
Improve infrastructure in communities; and
Improve infrastructure in a broad spectrum of areas in
Full details on the areas in which IDF resources were
spent in Fiscal 2006 at the project level are included
in the Draft Estimates of the Development Programme for
Infrastructure Development Fund Programme:
In fiscal 2007 the IDF will be used in an even more focused
way to finance infrastructure projects being undertaken
by special purpose state enterprises. In this regard,
the projects that were being executed by ministries, departments
and statutory bodies have been returned to the traditional
This explains the growth in the PSIP from its projected
expenditure level of $2,072.7 million in 2006 to its budgeted
level of $3,400.0 million in 2007.
IDF expenditure for fiscal 2007 has been budgeted at $2,692.9
million and will be structured as follows:
33.4 per cent or $898 million on economic infrastructure;
41.5 per cent or $1,118.0 million on social infrastructure;
24.9 per cent or $670.9 million infrastructure to provide
multi-sector and other services; and
0.2 per cent or $6.0 million on pre- investment activity.
The IDF resources in fiscal 2007 will be used, among other
Develop industrial sites and new port facilities for the
Continue the construction of houses for low and middle
Expand and improve the road network, address drainage
problems; and restore public buildings;
Development of Wallerfield Industrial and Technology Park,
and other industrial estates;
Construction of performing arts centres in Port-of-Spain
and San Fernando, provision of a national carnival entertainment
centre, provision of community centres, and the construction
of infrastructure in communities via self help;
Develop the Brian Lara Multi-purpose Sporting Complex,
upgrade of 153 Corporation grounds and develop regional
and sub-regional grounds;
Continue develop residential and agricultural plots for
ex-Caroni (1975) Ltd Workers;
Develop infrastructure in urban and rural communities;
Construction and upgrade of primary and secondary schools,
as well as the development of early childhood centres;
Construction of health facilities;
Construct police stations, construct facilities for the
Coast Guard and Prison Service; and
Restore the Red House, expand the communication backbone
in the public service and refurbish the NBN Building.
Full details on the areas in which IDF resources will
be expended Fiscal 2007, at the project level, are included
in the Draft Estimates of the Development Programme for