“The deficit of fiscal 2021 is TT$16.47 billion and not TT$8 billion as the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert told the Parliament on Wednesday.”
So said MP for Oropouche West, Davendranath Tancoo, the shadow Minister of Finance for the Opposition.
MP Tancoo based his calculations on the statistics provided by the Minister himself. In his Budget Speech, the Minister states on page 31, a projected revenue for fiscal 2021 of $46.341 billion, and total expenditure at $49.357 billion. This yielded an estimated fiscal deficit of $8.209 billion.
However, according to a release from UNC, the Minister of Finance advised during his Mid-Term Review, that the country was experiencing a shortfall in revenue of some $5 billion. Total 2021 revenue was estimated in the order of $36.364 billion. Minister Imbert further projected an increase in expenditure by $2.9 billion based on the Supplemental Variation of Appropriation that was approved yesterday. Government Expenditure then estimated at $52.473 billion for the current fiscal year.
Tancoo said “This means that for 2021, the Government now has a deficit of TT $16.4 billion, double what the Minister has projected and double what the Minister told the Parliament yesterday.
Tancoo is extremely concerned that the Government continues to hide the truth.
The Oropouche West MP declared that “Nowhere in the Minister Imbert’s presentation has that $16.4 billion deficit figure been mentioned. The Minister has refused to be transparent and open with the country.”
The reason this is important is because the Minister must now find additional funding to support the additional $8 billion deficit.
“More importantly though, why is he hiding the truth?” Tancoo asked.
Under these circumstances, the Minister of Finance’s failure to tell the country the true state of the deficit, that is in fact twice as high as the Minister told the Parliament, is indeed cause for alarm.
Tancoo, who was at the podium, ready to speak when the Speaker called on the Minister to wind up the debate, said that the last week saw the Government desperately try to avoid answering questions on Government expenditure.
According to Tancoo “what else is the Government hiding? And why? The country needs to know. The country is entitled to know!”