Trinidad and Tobago has recorded an TT$8 billion windfall, as a result of the recent spike in oil prices and energy products on the global market.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, disclosed that the actual windfall amount is TT$8.14 billion (1 TT dollar=US$0.16 cents). Speaking at a news conference following a weekend retreat of the Cabinet, Prime Minister Rowley told reporters that the windfall will be used to lessen the deficit from TT$16 billion to just under TT$4 billion.
According to Rowley, “Now that the market is giving us some additional revenue, unplanned, but fortunately grateful to have that, the Minister of Finance is able to tell us that for the period we are examining, we would have earned an additional TT$8.14 billion…what do we now do with that money and that is what the discussion in the retreat was about”.
Rowley said even before the discussions had taken place, the government had gone to Parliament for approval in spending TT$2.6 billion of the windfall through a budget adjustment.
Rowley acknowledged that inflation has had an impact on the way of life, but that Port of Spain had been able to keep inflation to a low of just over five per cent “considerably less than it is in other countries which are in fact facing the kind of challenges we are facing”.
According to him, the financial windfall will not be used solely to meet salary increases and arrears to public servants within the twin-island republic, adding that billions of dollars had to be borrowed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He emphasised that even before the discussions had taken place, the government had gone to the Parliament for approval in spending TT$2.6 billion of the windfall through a budget adjustment.
Rowley told the local media that even though his administration is pleased with the economic situation, it has had to implement a reduction in the amount of money spent on subsidising fuel, which he estimated at TT$300 million monthly.