Tuesday, October 2, 2012

No shortfall in budget for agriculture: Devant

Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj said on Tuesday contrary to what some commentators have suggested, there is no shortfall in the budgetary allocation for agriculture and food production in the 2013 budget presented in Parliament on Monday.

Some commentators have stated that the figures show a drop of half a billion dollars in the allocation for 2013 when compared to the amount that was earmarked for agriculture and food production in the previous budget.

In a medias release Maharaj acknowledged that the actual amount of $1.4 billion for 2013 is lower than the amount for 2012, which was $1.9 billion. However he said it does not reflect a real cut in the ministry’s budget. 

He explained that the Food Production Ministry has fewer obligations and departments this year since some of the divisions that were part of the ministry in 2012 are now relocated to other ministries.

These include Marine Affairs, State lands and the Estate Management Business Development (EMBD) division. Maharaj said when the change is taken into consideration it is clear that there is indeed no reduction in the real budget for his ministry. He added that the funds for his ministry are adequate to deal with the priorities established by the People’s Partnership Government as outlined by Finance Minister Larry Howai.

The focus for agriculture is to encourage more domestic production with the emphasis on cutting the food import bill and lowering food inflation, which in the past has contributed to high inflation. The goal is to reduce the food import bill by 50 per cent by 2015. The current annual bill for food imports is about $4 billion.

Maharaj said the Ministry would move to this goal through expansion of farms on lands of the former Caroni (1975) Limited and the distribution of 5,000 two-acre farms to former sugar workers. The plan is to put over 4,000 acres of lands into food production. In addition, the Ministry will establish a Commodity Stablisation Fund with the National Agriculture Marketing Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO) to strengthen the agro-processing sector.

The minister stated that a main highlight of the effort to contain food inflation and reduce the food import bill would be the elimination of Value Added Tax (TAX) on up to 7,000 basic food items.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai