Work on job classification and evaluation exercises for the long-awaited T&T Revenue Authority (TTRA) is nearing completion, according to Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West.
“And continuous extensive stakeholder engagements continue to inform the process for the establishment of the TTRA,” West told the Senate yesterday where she gave mid-year review updates.
In Monday’s Mid-year Budget Review, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced a tax amnesty on all forms of taxation from June to mid-September. He urged citizens to bring their taxes up to date as future amnesties may be unlikely after the TTRA comes into being.
Yesterday, West said, “Efforts are continuing to establish the TTRA. The draft legislation was before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament which held consultations with stakeholders. The final report of that committee was submitted (to the House of Representatives) two days ago. The next stage is to debate the report and pass this long-awaited bill, with the support of all parliamentarians.”
Legislation for the TTRA requires special majority vote and Opposition support for passage.
She said, “Groundwork for establishing the TTRA continues progressing at a steady pace with completion of the strategic framework for TTRA’s operation—the TTRA Bill, 2018.”
The process will involve a business process re-engineering component and the drafting of detailed organisation design for the new entity which will promote greater efficiency and effectiveness in revenue collection.
West said legislation for the regulation of the gaming/casino sector is also being finalised.
“The Joint Select Committee has completed its review of the Bill and thoroughly examined and considered the Gambling Consultant’s Report. In this regard, both the list of amendments and the consolidated bill are completed and under review by the Attorney General,” she noted.
She added: “Once approved, it will be submitted to the committee for inclusion in the final report to be laid in Parliament. It’s anticipated the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2016 will be debated this year,” she said.
West also said Government aims for the rollout of the public-private partnership arrangement for the La Brea dry-dock and shipbuilding/ ship repair facility in July 2019.
Giving an account of natural gas production she said there had been an increase in 2018 to an average of 3.63 billion standard cubic feet per day.
“Further, gas production continues to increase and is expected to reach an average of 3.8 bcf per day in 2019. Production is already averaging 3.81 bcf per day in the first quarter of 2019,” she said.
West said, “Petroleum production is projected to stabilise in 2019 and thereafter trend steadily upwards from 60,000 barrels per day in 2019 to over 80,000 barrels per day in 2023, and this is strongly influenced by activities of Heritage Petroleum Company Limited (Heritage) which has begun to ramp-up exploration and production.”
Government is also hoping that following “the robust procurement process” for a refinery investor/operator to assume control/operation of the refinery which now houses the Guaracara Refining Limited, that an operator will soon be identified and “operations can resume by December 2019.”