Colm Imbert

Finance minister: Colm Imbert

SOME of the new measures that were announced by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the 2020 national budget have come into effect on Sunday.

In a full page advertisement yesterday, Government reminded citizens of the measures that took effect from December 1.

From this month, employees of the Unemployed Relief Programme (URP) and the Community-Based Environment Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) will get a 15 per cent increase in their wages.

Trainees of the On-the-Job Training Programme will see a ten per cent hike in their stipends while the intake for the programme will be increased from 5,000 to 8,000 trainees.

The new minimum wage of $17.50 also takes effect from this month, up from $15 per hour.

Some other measures announced in the budget will take effect from January 1.

They include:

• Increase in the solar water heating equipment tax credit from 25 per cent to 100 per cent of the cost of the solar water-heating equipment up to a maximum of $10,000

• Increase in the value of personal goods that can be imported without incurring customs duties from $3,000, which was set in 2005, to $5,000.

• Capital allowance for energy companies involved in exploration and development to be computed on a straight-line basis of 20 per cent over five years, instead of 50 percent for the first year, 30 percent for the second year and 20 percent for the third year.

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FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert is assuring that the Office of Procurement Regulation would still have the power to investigate government-to-government arrangements after Government makes “slight” amendments to Section 7 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act next month.

A CALL has been made for Government to take immediate action on campaign finance reform and implementing the public procurement legislation.

Without these two pieces of legislation, says the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI), this country’s scoring on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) will remain stagnant.

Publicly listed TTNGL’s profits declined last year because the international prices of its three products—natural gas liquids propane, butane and natural gasoline—have tumbled, said Dominic Rampersad, president of Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd (PPGPL) yesterday.

EXPORTT, this country’s official export facilitation organisation, has started to think of Cuba as a critical “gateway market” to the rest of Latin America.