Opposition leader says no sort of economic relief on the the way for citizens

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Opposition leader says no sort of economic relief on the the way for citizens

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the mid-year budget review presented by Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday showed no sign of economic progress, or any suggestion that there is some sort of economic relief on the way.

Speaking in the House, she asked how Imbert planned to repay the additional deficit that would be incurred from the additional $4 billion requested, especially as revenue returns have been lower than expected.

“The revenue has fallen. Seriously fallen, if my memory serves me right. It’s about $1 billion less, so not so bad. Minister says it’s not so bad, but I don’t believe him. It is very bad out there,” Persad-Bissesar said.

“When last did you go to the supermarket, not to buy air conditioning and a generator, but went over there to buy food? When asked would you do it? Then you will know how bad it is for people.

“We talk about the TTPS, we talk about National Security and the officers are many officers. They’re great officers, but they are so seriously low in morale because their money cannot buy them the things they need to feed their families. And we see nothing here to help them with that.”

According to estimates listed by the Opposition Leader, the fiscal deficit incurred by the government could increase to as much as $14 billion.

“We are in a very bad place. We could run into a deficit. I would ask the Minister, how does the Minister intend to finance that deficit? Whether it be the $6 billion, whether it is the $14 billion? How? Are you going to borrow more?” she asked.

Persad-Bissessar said while the Government had requested additional funding, there was nothing in the mid year review to address the concerns of average citizens who are being adversely impacted by issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Minister spoke of the economy being on the rebound, but the reality is still below pre-pandemic levels and given the economic projection this year, it will remain below pre pandemic levels,” she said.

” The Minister told us last week there was about $7.8 billion in VAT refunds that are owed to people it is their money. So how much out of that $7.8 billion will be covered in the cash payments? How much will it be? Minister told us one to two billion dollars of the refunds owed will be paid in cash, so it means the bulk of it will be for people to take bonds,” she said.