Thursday, February 22, 2018

Couva Chamber: Is $1.3b for food enough?

The Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber of Commerce yesterday expressed concern over whether the national budget’s $1.3 billion allocation to agriculture was enough.

“With respect to agriculture, we note that the allocation remains the same as last year of $1.3 billion. We are concerned whether this allocation will be sufficient to reduce the food import bill and achieve Government’s objective for food security,” Chamber president Lily Herai said.

She noted that Finance Minister Larry Howai indicated a forecast economic growth of 2.5 per cent. 

“This seems a bit conservative given the (budget) expenditure of $61.3 billion,” Herai said. 

“However, to achieve this forecast figure, the government needs to focus on implementation of sustainable projects to fuel this economic growth.”

The increase in allocation for National Security to $6.5 billion is welcomed, Herai said in a statement from the Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber.

“But we look forward to the accelerated implementation to the short-, medium- and long-term plans as referred to by the minister.”

“Overall, the budget addresses the main issues in the country but the concern is implementation,” Herai added.

The Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber will host a free post-budget seminar tomorrow at 3 p.m. with Howai and businesses in the Couva/Pt Lisas area at the Chamber’s building in Couva.