Finance Minister Colm Imbert will present his 2024 fiscal package in Parliament today and the country eagerly awaits word on if the minimum wage will be increased. The current minimum wage stands at $17.50. The last budget was pegged at an oil price of US$92.50 per barrel and a gas price of US$6.00 per MMBtu.
Total expenditure for fiscal 2023 was budgeted at $57.685 billion. T&T has had budget deficits for the past 15 years. The deficits since the 2016 fiscal year have been: 2016 $7.97 billion, 2017 $13.53 billion, 2018 $5.69 billion, 2019 $4.02 billion, 2020 $16.68 billion, 2021 $13.74 billion, and 2022 $0.329 billion. The deficit for 2023 and ahead into 2024 may be smaller given the government’s stated intention to reduce the deficit, building on the $329 million deficit of 2022 as the Government moves toward its goal of a balanced budget.
With crime the most pressing issue facing the country, many will be looking at government expenditure and policy initiatives to curb the crime menace facing the nation. Education, works infrastructure, and social services are also expected to feature high in the government priority listing in today’s budget presentation.
The 2023 fiscal package saw education and training receiving the largest share of the pie at 7.453 billion dollars. The 2023 allocations were as follows:
-Education and Training $7.453 billion
-Health $6.892 billion
-National Security $5.798 billion
-Social Grants $5.453 billion
-Works and Transport $3.748 billion
-Public Utilities $2.823 billion
-Rural Development and Local Government $1.887 billion
-Agriculture $1.330 billion
-Housing $0.974 billion