Yesterday the Minister of Finance dropped his annual Onlyfans fans video or as the rest of us knows it, the national budget. Now I’ll be upfront and admit that I too thought we were about to get some R Kelly level treatment in this budget.
However, I was pleasantly surprised, not because the policies were so accommodating that it was like Festivus come early, no I was pleased because the level of pain wasn’t like waiting days for your zaboca to ripen, only to cut it open and the inside black. Full disclosure I hate zaboca so that is just anecdotal pain for me.
Anyway, the reason I’m here is to discuss some of the budget highlights for me. If you want proper, serious analysis then go read or watch the myriad of experts pontificate on the minutiae of each measure.
The first thing I noticed and I’m sure you did too was this budget was basically a rehash of previous ones with a “CTRL H” to replace 2020/2021 with 2022. Small ting, I do that all the time in my reports too Mr Imbert.
You would have also noticed that a lot of the 4 hour speech was spent patting himself and his party on the back while promising all manner of motherhood and apple pie projects. A little bit again I expected him to say “Madame speaker, we intend to cure world hunger, achieve world peace and allow people to keep YouTube open in the background by 2025″….to thunderous applause by his half awake colleagues.
Speaking of projects, I couldn’t help but notice that the development scales were decidedly tipped toward areas in the North and particularly East-West corridor but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
The only question that kept coming to my mind was how are we going to pay for all of this? The answer came probably a good 3 hours and 45 minutes into the speech in the “money shot” part….you know, the last 20 mins when he bend the nation over for a quickie, sans grease.
Basically the plan is deficit financing. For 2022 the deficit is expected to total TT$9.096 billion or approximately 6% of GDP. We have a brand new, shiny, enamel cup to go paranging lenders for money. Which brings me to his comments on the IMF.
The Master of Coin proceeded to lambaste anyone who suggested approaching the IMF for support based on the IMF’s past record. He basically painted the IMF as the boogeyman which I totally disagree with. The IMF has completely changed its approach many years now and no longer wrecks economies for fun, as some would have you believe. If you haven’t read my post on the IMF you should definitely do so after you leave the bathroom stall.
The most incredible reason he gave for not going to the IMF is that one of the IMF’s policy prescriptions is that you must only spend what you earn. Imagine that, the nerve of the IMF to promote a balanced budget…the horror…the humanity. Imagine having to reduce spending to match your income (yes I know the economic pain that would cause in the short term). Deficit financing may be cool for a government, for a time, but not something I would recommend on a personal level. More on that when I start my personal finance YouTube channel.
The Minister also tossed out a few trinkets to the natives like increasing the tax allowance for pension and annuities, increased tax concessions for first time homeowners, removal of taxes and duties on electric cars and any remaining charges on computers and peripherals. All good stuff I guess.
I’m not sure if people noticed but he did mention the liberalization of the fuel price system. This has been in the works for a while as they were reducing the subsidy but I felt like he snuck that in there quietly. Also, he made roundabout mention to a review of rates on utilities. Yeah they talking about that since Adam was a teenager but I get the sense the WOOD coming sooner rather than later.
Of note was the focus on providing WIFI for all, which was ironic in the middle of a global social media outage and a Parliament YouTube channel chat that limited you to one comment every 2 mins and was deleting any negative comment. I would have preferred water for all but hey, not everyone need to bathe or wash they stink mouth.
I took special note of the plans to divest about 10 million FCB shares in 2022. Maybe if I scrape up a few shillings here or there I could afford maybe…one…hardly enough to secure my retirement.
TT Mortgage Bank, Revenue Authority, Gambling Commission, Property Tax, National Statistical Institute and other mythical characters from the Chronicles of Narnia were also mentioned.
Finally, and this was a gem, in order to provide relief on food prices they plan to remove VAT on a number of basic food items. Some of these items include canned meat, sausages, ham and pig tail. Really?? I kid you not. Pigtail is a basic item now. So the money we save on food we will spend more on treating non-communicable diseases. Ok, got it.
All in all it was a very benign budget in my view. Nothing great but nothing too terrible either. I just wish he didn’t take 4 hours to say it.