Planning Minister speaks on 2019 national budget

 Thursday 4 October 2018


Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
Camille defends budget

No other government has been willing to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the country, Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said Wednesday as she defended the 2019 budget presentation.

“This government has demonstrated time and time again that we were not afraid to take unpopular decisions, some of which have certainly not endeared us to the voting public. If we were only about counting votes and winning elections we would not have touched the fuel subsidy that every government for the past 50 years has spoken about but ignored. Similarly, if we were only concerned about staying in office we would not have revived the property tax debate,” Robinson-Regis told the audience at the American Chamber of Commerce’s (AmChamTT) annual post-budget discussion.

Echoing the sentiments of her colleague, Finance Minister Colm Imbert when he delivered the budget on Monday, Robinson-Regis hit back at local “experts” who advised the government to devalue the dollar and cut public sector spending and employees or else risk wrecking the economy.

“But here we are today. Even as we sidestepped the advice of experts, some of whom appeared to studiously ignore the socio-economic and political ramifications of that advice,” she said.

The government’s strategy was clear, she said, with a trajectory set from the first budget in 2015 designed to restore confidence, shape a brighter future in 2016, eventually changing the paradigm in 2017, eventually leading to a turnaround today.

The turnaround was not happenstance but rather deliberate policies implemented by the government, she said. “The plan was clear. First we needed to stabilize the economy and rebuild trust of a battle weary population. Paradigm changes so we did not repeat past mistakes were needed to ensure turnaround and then sustainable growth. We have no doubt that the patience exhibited by business, the citizens and confidence from international partners will now come together,” she said.

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