Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce Catherine Kumar is optimistic that additional funding will be allocated to the Ministry of National Security in the upcoming national budget to fight crime.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced just after 3 a.m. yesterday that the 2014/2015 budget will be read in Parliament on September 8.
She was winding up over 17 hours of debate on the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2014, which was passed with Government’s simple majority.
Kumar told the Express yesterday that Finance Minister Larry Howai will address the Chamber’s post-Budget breakfast meeting on September 9, at the Chamber’s
headquarters at Westmoorings.
She said in a telephone interview: “We are trusting responsible Government will prevail and that the focus would be on sustainable economic development which is very important to reducing the crime and improving the breakdown of law and order within our country.
Generally a significant part of the budget is allocated to the Ministry of National Security. But we are hoping there would be additional funding based on the level of improvements that are needed in both technology and infrastructure within the police service. The Chamber had made a recommendation that a greater allocation of funds be channelled into National Security to allow the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) to achieve the improvements in technology which they were looking forward to in 2015.”
Kumar said the Chamber felt funds should be directed into more sustainable social programmes to assist the youth at risk and vulnerable communities.
She said: “The Chamber has called for a redirection of funds going into social programmes. There is no real value added to the nation (with companies like) SportTT. That was one example of the misuse of funds. We have recommended the funds generally used for these social programmes be applied instead to more sustainable job creation programmes.”
Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association president Nicholas Lok Jack also responded to the budget date announcement.
“We would like to see a continued reduction of bureaucracy. For example, Chemistry, Food and Drugs would like to see better labs across the various ministries. We would like to see EximBank properly capitalised to finance exports. We want to be able to finance exports to Cuba.”
He added: “Another area would be the property tax or land and building tax. One of the strong calls would be for the property tax to exclude capital equipment. And of course, the reduction on crime.”