On 01 October 2018, the presentation of the National Budget of Trinidad and Tobago was delivered. The debate on the Appropriation Bill is currently ongoing, having moved from the House of Representatives to the Senate.
Young professional Aurelia Bruce was on hand at local news station TV6 to give initial views on the presentation delivered by the Minister of Finance earlier that afternoon in the Budget Presentation. As part of a panel that included other young persons, Bruce outlined some of the expectations she had for areas of government expenditure in 2019 and highlighted areas where increased focus should be placed to advance economic and social development. This included opportunities for youth engagement in economic activity.
One of the key concerns raised by Bruce is the limited engagement of youth in policy making, and in this context on issues of debt and development. As she noted in the discussion “any discussion on debt or development must include youth, as it is on their backs that the debt is incurred and on their backs development will be sought and will be brought.”
Other areas she highlighted in the discussion included the need for a holistic approach to the fight against crime, commending the government for the increased inclusion and use of technology in the Police Service. On the other hand however, Bruce highlighted the need for institutional development and capacity building in other areas such as the Coast Guard, Prisons, Judiciary, Customs and Excise and other agencies. In this way, crime prevention, detection and justice would be enhanced and the flow of illegal weapons and drugs will be stymied.
On the issues of revenue generation, trade, development and diversification, Bruce noted that the time for diversification is now and that it would be a betrayal of future generations if the country was unable to execute a successful diversification project. In her view, supporting new industries and growth in the non-energy sector (as oil and gas remains the mainstay of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy) is critical.
The budget debate will be concluded in early November. As the debate continues in Parliament, Bruce will continue the discussion on the National Budget 2019 on her youth-centered podcast “SOAPBOX” in the coming weeks.
Get to know Expert Aurelia Bruce:
Working at the intersection of business, government and the international economy, Bruce is an international trade researcher working with a Trade and Business Support Organization. She has spent a considerable amount of time conducting policy reviews and analysis on issues affecting the business environment and assessing challenges to compliance or use of fiscal, trade and legal measures and regulations. Bruce has the added experience of conducting trade research in the Caribbean and in Canada and has done research on African and Pacific nations. Passionate about regional integration and development she hopes to positively contribute to the Caribbean integration movement. One way of doing so is through her vocation in trade policy and in particular the development of Caribbean creative and cultural industries. She graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, with a Master’s degree in International Trade Policy (Distinction) and a BSc. in Political Science with Law (Hons). Bruce is also an alumni of the Government of Canada Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program and the United States Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.
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