Monday, April 7, 2014

T&T economy would regain all lost ground by end of 2015: Howai

Finance Minister Larry Howai
Larry Howai told Parliament on Friday Trinidad and Tobago is expected to recover from the 2008-09 economic slump by the end of 2014 and added that the GDP projection is $177 billion by December 2015. He said the economy would recover all lost ground by then. 

The Finance Minister was speaking on the Finance Bill, outlining measures to generate revenue. 

He said the economy has grown in several areas, including the non-energy sectors. And he pointed out that the country's external reserves currently stand at US$10 billion (TT$64B) with the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund exceeding US$5 billion (TT$32B).

Howai also stated that unemployment at 3.7 per cent is the lowest it has ever been in the country and noted that 13,000 new businesses were registered in 2013. Another sign of a buoyant economy, he said, is the low inflation rate, which is down to 3.9 per cent, with food inflation also falling.

These economic indicators were noted by a mission from the International Monetary Fund that visited Trinidad and Tobago last month. The mission concluded that the economy was "robust" and measures taken by the government are delivering favourable results. It also stated that the economy would grow by 2.5 per cent in 2014, a full percentage higher than anticipated. 

With respect to revenue generating measures Howai said casino operators would have to pay $200,000 for a licence - a 100 per cent increase. In addition, he said they would have to make a $500,000 deposit in order to operate. Howai said there are 6,000 casino operators in the country who operate 25,000 gaming machines in a sector that has grown into a $2 billion industry that employs thousands of people.

He said government would establish a gaming authority to supervise the sector. The minister said the fee of $100,000 has been in effect since 1995 and needed to be adjusted to keep up with inflation. With respect to the half a million dollar deposit, he said operators would be required to pay it or risk losing certification and dismissal of a club’s secretary.  

In addition, all clubs would have to pay all fees in a single payment, effective December 15, 2014 instead of in quarterly instalments. However he said pool tables would be exempt and wine bars and restaurants would be allowed to host amusement games.

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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