Mid Year Budget Review – oil & gas prices reviewed, $1.8b in extra allocations

    (Photo Credit: Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago Facebook)

    An additional 1.839 billion dollars has been allocated to a number of national entities and Ministries, as part of the Mid-Year Budget Review.

    Speaking in the Parliament today, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert outlined a number of new allocations, many of which are meant to cover routine expenses.

    There was an increase in the total budgeted expenditure for fiscal 2019: it now stands at $52.07 billion, about $300 million more than the previous figure of $51.77 billion.

    Despite the increase in expenditure, there were no new public taxes.

    Instead, there will be an increase in the overall fiscal deficit – from $4.05 billion, to $4.57 billion.

    There was also a revision of the the oil and gas prices on which the budget was pegged, due to global fluctuations – the oil price was adjusted from US$65 per barrel to US$60 per barrel, while the gas price moved to $3 per mmbtu, up from $2.75 per mmbtu.

    He said natural gas production increased in 2018 to an average of 3.63 billion standard cubic feet per day, and is expected to continue increasing, to an average of 3.8 bcf per day in 2019.

    The Minister also reported a smaller than expected deficit for the first 6 months of the fiscal year, thanks to better than expected revenue and tight expenditure.

    So what was the reason for the better than expected revenue?

    Mr Imbert says it was due primarily to higher than anticipated receipts from taxes on income and profits, as well as a good performance with respect to no-tax revenue.

    The state of the local economy was also a point of focus for the Finance Minister.

    Mr Imbert quoted statistics from the Central Statistical Office as he defended previous assessments of economic recovery.

    The Minister also insists that local financial buffers remain substantial.

    According to him, as of May 3rd 2019, assets in the Heritage and Stabilization Fund hit an all-time high of US$6.1 billion, while Central Bank foreign exchange reserves currently stand at US$7.3 billion.

    He says there is also US$2.5 billion available within local commercial banks for commercial and individual transaction purposes.