In case you missed it, the Finance Minister Colm Imbert has announced a $52.4 billion budget for the next fiscal year. The theme for the budget was Resilience in the Face of a Global Pandemic.
The expenses are separated into three categories:
As the budget was read, the Ministry of Education was given the most, while
The Ministry of Housing had the least. Education was granted $6.886 billion; Health–$6.395 billion; National Security–$5.664 billion; Works & Transport–$3.577 billion; Public Utilities– $2.671 billion; Rural Development and Local Government–$1.656 billion; Housing–$610 million; and Agriculture was granted $1.249 billion.
Delving into the $1.269 billion budget, allocations were made for $300 million to the agricultural stimulus package fund in 2022, an access road repair programme to cover 80 kilometres and benefit over 400 farmers at a cost of $75 million and a rice parboiling plant in Couva to be constructed in 2022 among other investments.
Other highlights in the new budget included 13 per cent energy sector growth expected in 2022 and a plan to return to fiscal surplus in 2023.
Oil prices are expected to stabilise at approximately US$66 from 2022 to 2024 and the removal of all VAT and customs duty on specified therapy equipment for hearing impaired, visually impaired, physical disability, which is a positive outlook for the next four years.
The new budget also intends to make a vast range of different foods VAT free. Some of these include biscuits, cooking oil, canned vegetables, cornflakes, canned fish, canned meat, curry, juice, sausages, ham, ketchup, bottled water and many more.
With the prices of other food items increasing, the removal of VAT from this list should aid in a household’s grocery bill. It is without doubt that 2022 will bring some hard economic times, but we must remind ourselves that food sustainability can begin in each household by creating kitchen gardens for growing your own food or some of the basic produce that your family utilises.
It is important to note that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our country has taken a more holistic and serious approach to food security. I do believe that once we all work together as a nation, we can achieve food sustainability by growing our own food, utilising new agricultural technologies, and supporting our local farmers rather than imports.
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