PORT-OF-SPAIN —  The government plans to spend billions of dollars on new energy projects in an effort to boost the economy.

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran told parliament the government wants to inject $2.5 billion into oil and natural gas projects and $1.4 billion into the petrochemical sector.

Dookeran made the announcement while presenting the 2012 fiscal year budget. It has a $1.2 billion deficit, the third consecutive one for one of the region's most advanced economies.

Dookeran said the government will borrow to cover the deficit and to fund public works projects.

The economy grew 1.7 percent over the past year and, Dookeran said, unemployment has risen to 6.3 percent from 5.6 percent.