FINANCE Minister has delivered the 2020 Budget with total revenue of $47.74 billion and total expenditure of $53.036 billion leaving a fiscal deficit of just about $5.287 billion.
He has pegged the budget of an oil price of US $60 per barrel and a gas price of US$3 per MMBTU.
The 2020 Budget is titled Strength, Stability and Growth.
- Minimum wage increases from $15 to $17.50. Effective from December 2019. It will benefit 194,000 employees.
- An offer in the first instance of $3 billion in interest bearing Government bonds to eligible VAT registered businesses to meet their VAT arrears. Bonds to have a tenure of five years and bear interest of 1.5% per annum.
- Removal of all taxes and duties on inputs for farmers as farming to become a tax free industry.
- Government will accelerate 6,000 housing units to be completed by December 2020.
- The launch of a new housing loan initiative to provide guaranteed low-interest loans of $300,000 for people willing to build their own homes.
- Small contractors will be given contracts to build “no-frills” home at $500,000 each.
- CEPEP and URP workers to get wage increases of 15%.
- On-the-job Training programme stipend to be increased by 10% and the intake of trainees will be increased to 8,000.
- Solomon Hochoy Highway from San Fernando to Point Fortin to be completed by 2020.
- Mosquito Creek elevated roadway to be finished by October 2020.
- Parking meter system for Port-of-Spain and San Fernando.
- New licence plate system in 2020 to remove illegal plates.
- Traffic tickets to be paid online and via mail.
- National Investment Fund (NIF) has paid out $224 million in dividends to date. A second NIF next year through the sale of certain CLICO assets worth $2.6 billion.
- Plans to move 80,000 land files into an electronic document management system and the launch of a land card to give state land users access to their files.
- A programme to remove all antiquated incandescent bulbs in the 400,000 households in TT.
- No taxes and duties on LED bulbs for a five-year period.
- Tax credit from 25% to 100 % on the cost of the solar water systems.
- Tax break up to $10,000 for household heating equipment.
- Ban on the importation of Styrofoam for use in the food service industry and manufacturers of food containers to introduce additives to make their products biodegradable.
- Ban on the use of plastic bottles in public offices from January 1, 2020.
- Increase in the maintenance budget for schools and a billion-dollar package of construction work to complete 27 priority schools.
- Shelters for homeless women displaced through domestic and other issues.
- Daycare centres for children under three years of female-headed households who meet certain criteria.
- Police to get new state-of-the-art police training academy, tablets, drones, dashboard cameras, drug-testing equipment.
- Daily paid public servants to be eligible for public service pension of $3,500 as part of a contributory plan.
- $10 million to upgrade IT systems in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to improve internet access at these offices.
- A fisheries management bill to be laid in Parliament to moderate the long-term management of TT’s fisheries resources.
- The management of forests to be reviewed.
- The elimination of passenger arrival forms.
- Tobago budget allocation is 2.283 billion or 4.3 per cent of budget.
- The Bill for internal self-government to go before Parliament in the first quarter of 2020.
Allocation to Ministries:
National Security- $6.440 billion
Education – $7.548 billion
Health- $6.084 billion
Local Government- $2.469 billion
Works and Infrastructure- $2.956 billion
Agriculture- $0.708 billion
Housing- $1.007 billion
Public Utilities- $3.074 billion