No reason to fear budget, says Howai
There is no reason to fear tomorrow's budget, Finance Minister, Larry Howai, seemed to be saying at yesterday's Pre-Budget Rally at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas.
In a brief address, Howai, who was appointed that portfolio in Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's Cabinet reshuffle recently, said his primary concerns in his first budget were aimed at raising the standard of living in Trinidad and Tobago. The former First Citizens chief executive said crime reduction, healthcare, home ownership and agriculture were priorities.
"I will be providing funds to address crime," Howai said.
He said the country's food import bill was also too high and "rising" and strengthening agriculture was a step to reducing this. He also reassured those who rely on the GATE tertiary education programme that fears he will be stopping it were unfounded.
"But waste and abuse will not be allowed to continue," he said. Howai said he expected economic growth of at least 1.2 per cent in the coming fiscal year and this country's foreign reserves currently stood at US$9.8 billion.
The Heritage and Stabilisation Fund now stands at $4.5 billion, he added.
Howai said he will be working on reducing inflation and unemployment, which he said has gone from 5.9 per cent to 4.9 per cent.