The Employers Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECA) is of the view that the Budget presentation was not as compelling as anticipated. Although the figures presented seemed to be fairly balanced with respect to grants, incentives and austerity measures, there was an obvious dearth of tangible measures for improving the quality of life for ALL citizens in respect of programmes that meaningfully support economic growth, encourage investment in diversification initiatives, improve the efficiency of our public institutions, promote effective waste management and most importantly, ensure the safety of all citizens.
For instance, it would have been useful to hear much more about the status of the many costly state sponsored projects and incentives proffered in previous budgets, as well as the previously proposed business development incentive programmes and other capital projects intended to stimulate economic activity. Moreover, feedback on the perceived performance and impact of the EXIM Bank facility for foreign exchange would have been beneficial. We are all aware that limited availability of foreign exchange continues to be a major inhibitor for conducting business.
Of even greater concern are the inordinate delays in providing VAT refunds to businesses and the activation of the Revenue Authority as the Government continues to lose significant tax revenue while compliant citizens and established businesses are made to bear the burden of this major revenue deficit. We can only hope that all involved parties see the value of cooperation in realising the implementation and operationalization of this important institution in the shortest possible timeframe.
The introduction of increases in grants for the poor and vulnerable are welcomed, as are the promise of major projects relating to Tobago, housing, police stations, and hospitals, much needed insofar as boosting job creation and the improvement of services for our citizens. However, the ECA has some questions around the feasibility of conducting several major projects simultaneously, especially where the availability of funds or sources of financing is limited.
With just over ten (10) years to go before the year 2030, we strongly emphasize that our actions must be measured, future-driven, feasible and relevant if we are to even come close to realising the objectives espoused in our Vision 2030 National Development Strategy, especially given our continuing financial constraints.
The ECA will release a more comprehensive overview of its analysis of the budget following a complete review of the 2018/2019 package.
For further information, kindly contact:
Public Relations and Research Department