In T&T: $240m MORE FOR CEPEP $320m… annual budget depleted in six months

4 June 2012

Absorption rate of CEPEP budget allocation 2x more than anticipated…funds to be mobilised for CAF, Colour Me Orange.

IN JUST six months, the annual budget allocation of $320 million to the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) company has already been depleted and to pay the almost 10,000-strong workforce another $240 million is needed.

Government sources yesterday confirmed that the CEPEP injection of funds is just a fraction of the $1.5 billion needed to finance several projects under various government ministries.

Debate on the Second Report of the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives on proposals for the Supplementation and Variation of the 2012 Appropriation comes up today at House of Representatives, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.

A Government source yesterday confirmed that Cabinet has already okayed that the additional $1.5 billion be added to the 2012 budget, which stood at $54 billion, and was already described as the largest in the country’s history.

Another source said the Ministry of Food Production is seeking just over $50 million to fund fish landing site upgrades across the country, while the Transport Ministry is seeking an additional $11 million for additional wages following the Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union settlement at the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, $15 million for the water taxi service, owed to the Ministry from the last budget allocation, and a further $10 million for the improvements to the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).

Adesh Deonarine, CEPEP’s chairman yesterday confirmed that the environmental enhancement company was running on the last of its multi-million-dollar annual allocation because of an increase in contracts given out over the last year.

“There has been an increase in the number of contracts in the last two years. We need more money because we are increasing the amount of contractors in the programme,” Deonarine said in a telephone interview yesterday.

He said while he inherited just over 100 contracts, that figure has now doubled to 200.

“There are close to 10,000 people working within CEPEP now,” he said.

A massive chunk of the supplementary bill includes the $650 million membership fee to Andean Development Bank, which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar signed off on in April for the country to become a Special Member Country of the Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF) which was signed off in Cartegna, Colombia at the Sixth Summit of the Americas.

Leader of Government Business, Dr Roodal Moonilal, yesterday said that investment with the Andean Bank will benefit the country in the future with regard to accessing loans.

That loan agreement enabled a portfolio of local government projects to become eligible for CAF financing including infrastructural projects regarding roads, transportation, telecommunications, power generation and transmission, water and sanitation.

In his capacity as Housing Minister, Moonilal yesterday confirmed the billion-dollar supplementary request. He said the increase in the number of CEPEP contractors was in keeping with the natural course of job creation.

Moonilal said CEPEP will also partner with the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to facilitate the next cycle of the Colour Me Orange programme. HDC managing director Jearlean John said yesterday that the next cycle is scheduled to kick off next month.

The supplement to the budget also included a multi-million-dollar injection for the continued funding of the Commissions of Enquiry, in the 1990 attempted coup and the collapse of the CLICO/HCU group of companies and to offset the multi-million-dollar Caribbean Airlines fuel subsidy, Moonilal added.

Ashton Ford, People’s National Movement (PNM) party secretary yesterday said while the Opposition was concerned with the details of supplementary bill, Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley will speak on the issue at a press conference today.


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