Police officers doing crowd control at a health centre in South Trinidad.

Put to rest the ‘ole talk’ that the Police Service was “underfunded.”

With that view, Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday pointed out the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service which got $300 million in the 2021 Budget got an additional $57 million in the Supplementation and Variation bill passed in Parliament.

Plus there was a $200 million loan to pay off previous bills. In total the TTPS will receive almost $600m in 2021.

The extra $57m funding will deal with TTPS goods and supplies including service providers, vehicle rental, equipment and weapons.

Imbert noted if all goes to plan, the TTPS would have—after clearing all liabilities—almost $400m for goods and services for 2021.

“So I want to put to rest the ole talk on ‘underfunding’ of TTPS—that’s nonsense!”

Supplementation is also requested for WASA which costs $ 2 billion plus annually. Imbert said he hoped Government would have been further along in reducing WASA’s dependence on taxpayers, “But for various reasons, we’re not there yet, but very hopeful we’ll get there.”

He didn’t give the reasons and didn’t say when “we’ll” get there.

Supplementation was also needed for the Ministry of Works’ outstanding matters including TTEC obligations. The Ministry of Local Government also received funding for staff and other payments.

Imbert said supplementation was also needed as ministries have statutory authorities and landlords to pay as well as contractors for projects completed.

Imbert dismissed calls to go to the International Monetary Fund and to have structural adjustment. He said countries only approach the IMF when they run out of foreign exchange and can’t service foreign debt. “That’s economics 101,” he said.

He said Trinidad and Tobago’s reserves are still US$7 billion with US$5.7 billion “more or less” in the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund. There’s more than sufficient foreign exchange at this point, “So there’s absolutely no reason to go to the IMF for help.”

Imbert said the government asked the IMF a month ago to help with fiscal and monetary matters.

He added the government is also unable to stop borrowing currently as it would be unable to pay for various things and also said there no conditionalities attached to the US$200 million China loan.