Trinidad and Tobago's Finance Minister yesterday delivered what many are calling a “welfare budget”, but prior to its unveiling in Parliament, blogger Afra Raymond had hoped that “a more restrained approach might be taken.”
In examining the country's national budgets since 2005, Raymond found it telling that “many of the key issues identified a full decade ago are still at the fore of the more recent budgets.” There have been recurring themes: the need for economic diversification, better infrastructure, more effective crime fighting and tactics to help reduce the incidence white-collar crime. The figures revealed a tendency towards increased expenditure, with only occasional surpluses, leading him to conclude:
The reality that we are on the verge of a national election which is sure to be strongly-contested, leaves me in little doubt that the 2015 budget is also likely to be a deficit budget, with the State spending more than it earns.
Making the point that “the extent to which our Treasury is protected from being plundered by criminal elements is a serious question which should concern every citizen”, the blogger notes that adding insult to injury is the fact that corruption goes virtually unpunished in the country.
But how to stem the tide? Raymond is convinced that passing the long overdue Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill “would play an important part in greatly reducing the scope for waste and theft of Public Money.”