FINANCE Minister Larry Howai's maiden budget presentation yesterday has continued the government's trend of being "vague" about revenue generation, Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi said yesterday.
"What we're really interested in is where is the revenue coming from," he said in an interview with the media outside Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, following the presentation of the national budget 2012/2013 in Parliament.
Al-Rawi, also public relations officer of the People's National Movement (PNM), said the country was in a deficit financing period and, while Howai spoke about bringing it back to balance budget "with a big 'if' potentially at 2016", how we reach that balance in terms of our revenue is "the interesting question".
"So if you're going to spend another $7.6 billion in deficit, if your debt to GDP ratio has risen as it has again year on year you've got to have revenue from somewhere," he stressed.
He also commented on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's statement to the media that the reduction in the gas subsidy that resulted in an increase in the price of premium gas from $4 to $5.75 would affect about six per cent of the motoring population.
Al-Rawi commented: "Well again there's no basis for those figures because it hasn't been presented."
He noted that revenue "has to come from somewhere" and there is a significant subsidy on gas. He pointed out that there continued to be a "sense of amnesty" in land and building taxes or property taxes.
On Howai's statement that unemployment was 4.6 per cent, Al-Rawi pointed out that no source was given and to his knowledge it had not been published by the Central Statistical Office.
He said it was difficult to appreciate the budget presentation particularly because it lacked a year on year comparison to the last budget, which was "very unusual" for a budget statement.
He said the year on year comparison regarding the implementation side of previous budgets has to be factored "to see if we can trust the expectations given by the Minister of Finance".