Subsidies could be wiped out in Budget

Consumers are already bracing for increased food and transportation prices as Finance Minister Colm Imbert gets set to read the budget on September 30. Among the key announcements expected are the possibility of subsidies on fuel, transportation, and other sectors being completely wiped out or reduced significantly.

The impact will increase the cost of living directly and already low and middle-income citizens are reeling in fear of what could be in the budget.

One homeowner, Carol Bryce, told the T&T Guardian she feared when the budget was presented things would get “extremely hard and middle-income earners will have to dig deeper into their pockets, especially if fuel subsidy is removed or reduced further.” 

“It will affect us big time. It will mean you have to spend more on food and transportation and your standard of living will drop,” she said.

Bryce, 63, of Couva, already anticipates she will have to make cutbacks in supermarket and market items, as well as use of utilities.

“I will have to cut my telephone at home because that bill is $500 a month and reduce my use of electricity because the bill is $1,200 for the two-month period.” She said: “The first thing I will stop using is my dryer. Our water use is already restricted.” 

Bryce already makes homemade bread and juices. She said buying food would be taken off the menu and her family would have to look at “other small changes to ensure  we can continue to save some money. That would mean giving up cable,” she said. 

Another homeowner, Glenda Peters, a public servant, currently spends $4,000 a month in the supermarket and $1,000 in the market. 

She says she also spends money on healthcare and $16 a day to travel to and from work. She said her family lives comfortably “because I have a son who is also working and he helps with the bills but even so we will have to make changes.”

In recent times, prices have been “going up and I have started cutting back on spending so I now look for specials in the supermarket and when I find them I buy extra so that I don’t have to buy the next time I go,” she added.

She is worried that from October prices will increase. “I expect my grocery bill to double if not triple,” she says.

Small luxuries, like a getaway weekend to Mayaro which used to cost $1,500, would have to stop because she would no longer be able to afford it, she said. However, she considers herself lucky in that she has no children in the Gate programme.

“Then I would have to find a way to get money to fund at least part of their education,” she said.

Buying food once a week was a luxury which “will have to stop”, she said, as would visiting friends and family on weekends “because you will have to consider how much money you spending on fuel.”

Bryce is hoping that despite the tough economic times, Government will consider the impact of measures to be implemented.

“We, middle-income families, always take the hit and have to bear the brunt of the changes,” she said. 

“However, I will still find a way to help people who come to me for help... a neighbour who needs a little money or relatives who may need help. I will have to have avenues open to help others,” she added.

SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Rosemarie Sant)

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