THE Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce says Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s announcement on Friday of the price increases in super and diesel fuels has the potential to affect the cost of living.
In a statement following Imbert’s mid-year budget review in the House of Representatives, the chamber said: “While the increase in super and diesel prices by 15% has the potential to affect the cost of living through increased transport costs, we note the minister’s intention to offer incentives by May to taxis and maxi-taxis, as well as the expansion of the public transportation fleet. This is intended to soften the impact on the more vulnerable. We call for the speedy implementation of those measures, as the fuel price changes go into immediate effect.”
The chamber said it recognised Imbert spent “significant time” treating with the fiscal imbalance occasioned by the precipitous slide in energy prices, and “consequently, he underscored the negative impact on the local economy and forex shortage”.
“As important as this was, we sense a subtle but potentially significant shift in the minister’s acknowledgement of the need to prepare the groundwork for the more important long-term transformation of the local economy. This transformation is essential if we are to diversify the economy away from its dependence on the energy sector.”
The chamber said: “We fully support the call for the Board of Inland Revenue to be more agile; but in this simple appeal lies a need for total transformation of the public service in areas including accountability, productivity and the use of technology.
“This objective will require fundamental changes in service delivery throughout the public sector. Each minister is now challenged, therefore, to take up the mantle of championing institutional reform.”