AS WE PUT this edition of our newspaper to bed last night, our lawmakers were in Parliament debating the Estimates of Income and Expenditure for 2022 fiscal year.
The Estimates amount to EC$1,329,340,860 and represent a 9.6 per cent increase over the approved budget for 2021. These Estimates, together with the Budget which will be presented and debated early next year, cannot be business as usual.
The 2022 Budget must address substantially the immediate challenges we face as a result of the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption of La Soufriere.
How do we build back and build back better? How do we address the immediate needs of the various economic sectors that have been affected? Life is not as usual, so it cannot be business as usual.
Global inflationary pressures leave us exposed to the vagaries of external market forces. How therefore, do we cushion those shocks? In short, if ever there were a time when business should not and cannot proceed as usual, that time is now. Quick wins must be pursued, low hanging fruit must be picked.
As citizens, we must play our part. We must contemplate and objectively come to that place where we understand and agree on what is our role in minimising the impact of the pandemic, the volcanic eruption and other challenges we faced this year including Hurricane Elsa and the ongoing threat of dengue fever.
The measures proposed in the Estimates and Budget must focus on containing the raging fires that pose an existential threat. This is not the time for massaging political egos. The people of this tiny nation with limited resources must find a way to work together to see us through this difficult passage.