PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday December 31, 2014, CMC – Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar says her administration has no intention of reducing expenditure in the health sector as well as to the vulnerable and under privileged as Trinidad and Tobago copes with the decline in global prices for oil.
In a New Year’s message released here, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that she would on January 8 address the nation “on the state of the economy.
“I will address the issue of falling oil and gas prices and their implications for Trinidad and Tobago and outline the way forward in the year ahead,” she added.
Finance Minister Larry Howai said earlier this month that Cabinet would soon decide on measures to deal with the declining revenue stream brought about by the rapid decline in the price for oil.
Trinidad and Tobago’s 2015 national budget is based on a reference price of US$80 per barrel of oil and a gas price of US$2.75 cents per mnbtu. But in recent months, oil prices had dropped from a high of US$102.90 cents a barrel to below US$55 a barrel.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, who will face a general election in 2015, said that her administration will table the Finance Bill in the Parliament on February 9, noting that the legislation “gives life and traction to the measures announced in the 2015 Budget Statement.
“Following this debate, during the following week, I will also engage stakeholders in a discussion on the state of the economy, the way forward and options for investment, growth, diversification and development.”
But she said she wanted to give the assurance to the country that “there will be no cut to affect the vulnerable and the under privileged as well as health sector reform and crime fighting. The preservation of jobs is high on our agenda.
“I look forward with keen interest in the ideas and suggestions which the stakeholders and citizens will share as we deepen our partnership in the interest of a prosperous and secure Trinidad and Tobago.
“In the mean time feel secure in the fact that your Government is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and working with you in mind every day,” she said in the New Year’s message.
In her message, she made reference to the “successes” of her administration since coming to office in May 2010, adding she felt confident in “our ability to mitigate the impacts of lower energy prices whilst preserving jobs and promoting economic growth.
“I remain doubly focussed on the task at hand. Attempts to distract my attention and energies from my responsibility to lead and manage the affairs of this nation will not deter me from my goal of a prosperous and secure nation,” she said, adding “today as we approach the final few months of my first term as Prime Minister, I can say with a lot of confidence that Trinidad and Tobago is in a better place than when I inherited the responsibility for its administration”.
She said “it is my desire to continue to manage and lead this nation to prosperity and towards this end I am committed”.