Trinidad and Tobago Budget 2016-2017
Trinidad Youth Council would like to take opportunity to respond to the Budget 2016-2017. We have major concerns as it pertains to G.A.T.E. While we understand the need for G.A.T.E reform. More detailed information needs to be provided ASAP. This cannot be done two or three months before the new academic year, due to the fact that Tertiary education is a major investment for all parties involved. It is an investment of both time and money and is not something that should be entered into lightly. Students will have to pay based on their household income persons above $10,000.00; 25% and above $30,000.00; 50% and persons below $10,000.00 will be fully covered. However, just because someone’s household income is $25,000.00 that does not mean that all of that money contributes to their well-being or education, please explain to us how will that be accounted for. In addition, Masters’ programs will only be covered based on the development needs of the country. The Youth Council is asking this “Who will decide what our development needs are and what are the criterion under which programs will be judge?”
It was disheartening to hear that during the Hon. Minister’s 3 Hour long Budget statement Youth was only mentioned ONCE and that was in reference to the building of a Multipurpose Youth Facility Moruga. One of our major concerns is in the joining of Youth and Sport. Again we continue to ask What is really the allocation for Sport and what is the allocation for youth development? We do not want youth development to take a back seat to sport or for sport to be seen as the only vehicle for youth development. The largest portion of the budget is going towards national security and large portion of that money is going toward reactive methods of crime prevention. The government must invest more in youth development to develop proactive projects and programs that will aid in the reducing crime and violence.
With regards to financing the Budget; 53.475 Billion is a large amount of money to be able to finance. However we must be careful in the how we finance this budget. We should not sell long term valuable assets for one time payments. When we sell our assets today what is going to fund the budget tomorrow. What is going to be left for the next generation? We would be leaving future generations’ crippled. Not much has been said about income generation other than taxes. Person earning over a million will be taxed 30%. But what is the method that we are going to use to collect. Entrepreneurship Programs such as NEDCO and IBIS need to be supported so that it is able to work more effectively for our young people. These programs assist a wider cross section of people than the implementation of a million dollar Entrepreneur Talent Grant will be able to. They should be more investment in existing small business and medium business because they account for most youth employment.
We conclude by saying that our youth are vital to the future development of Trinidad and Tobago. They must be nurtured, listened to, protected, encouraged and given proper guidance and easy access to education, personal development, health care and meaningful employment. They must be supported and provided with the means to grow and develop and there must be forums for their voices to be heard and their ideas, plans and programmes incorporated into national policy. They must be given opportunities to participate in Government and the public and private sectors at the highest levels. These are not my words these are the words from the PNM’s 2015 Manifesto. Words to which the Trinidad Youth Council will continue to hold them accountable. We are not the future nor are we token to be used and manipulated for political gain. We are active and productive members of today’s society who need to be supported. Caribbean youth day was celebrated on the 30th of September the theme was from rhetoric to action and that is exactly what we required from our government.