COVID-19 plus crashing oil prices have caused the 2020 Budget deficit to balloon from $5.3 billion to $15.5 billion – and the 2020 Budget is now being recalibrated.
And while Government’s been successful in slowing COVID spread, Finance Minister Colm Imbert says there’s no question that fiscal 2020 will be exceptionally difficult even if the pandemic fades in the second half of the year.
Imbert spoke about the situation in a statement to Parliament yesterday on the economic effect and Government’s financial response to the COVID-19 crisis.
He shared principal elements in Government’s package of policies to address public health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. Imbert said a targeted financial support programme for an initial three months, costing approximately $4.5 billion, is providing a safety net for the most vulnerable households and businesses.
He said while the breadth, depth and duration of the effects of the virus are still uncertain, “our strategic initiatives have been swift as we seek to slow spread of the disease and minimise its economic consequences. We have been successful. We acted decisively, even before the World Health Organisation declared the virus a pandemic on March 11.”
As a result, he said the number of known/confirmed T&T cases as of yesterday was limited at 116 with eight deaths, plus 59 people have been discharged.