Standing Finance Committee approves additional $3b expenditure

Finance Minister Colm Imbert during the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament on May 13. – Photo courtesy Parliament

THE Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives approved a sum of $3,081,703,900 in supplementary allocations for fiscal 2022, when it sat on May 13.

The allocations cover 80 heads of expenditure, some of which are government ministries.

This approval took place ahead of a 1.30 pm sitting of the House of Representatives on Monday when Finance Minister Colm Imbert will move a motion to adopt the committee’s report on these approved expenditures. After passing this motion, Imbert will open debate on the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2022) Bill.

The presentation of this bill is known as the mid-year review. The bill will deal with matters contained in the committee’s report.

Before the committee approved an allocation of $95,357,000 for his ministry, Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi said part of that allocation included a sum of $50 million for the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP)

He explained that 92 per cent of that $50 million is for the payment of CEPEP workers’ wages. Al-Rawi said there are currently 319 CEPEP contractors and 9,000 workers in Trinidad.

He added his ministry does not deal with the payment of CEPEP workers in Tobago. Al-Rawi observed that Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Youth Development Secretary Terence Baynes has responsibility for CEPEP there.

“I have no answer to offer him.”

On May 10, Baynes said more than 40 CEPEP workers in Tobago had been fired.

Al-Rawi also said the ministry is doing an audit to determine the resources at the 14 local government corporations in Trinidad and what monies could be owed to them.

Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram claimed this was proof of bias against UNC-led corporations.

Al-Rawi replied, “There is something fundamentally wrong here with comprehension.”

He said $130,000 was provided to each corporation to undertake activities under the ministry’s national clean up campaign. These activities have taken place at the Diego Martin Regional, Port of Spain City and Siparia Regional Corporations to date.

Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein welcomed a $120,040,800 supplementary allocation to continue his ministry’s work. Hosein said a sum of $3.2 million in that allocation will be used to address issues related to the praedial larceny squad.

Other supplementary allocations approved before the committee meeting ended around 8 pm included $97,033,000, $390,000,000, $67,000,000 and $20,000,000 for the Works and Transport, Social Development and Family Services, Sport and Community Development and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Ministries respectively

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