The 2022 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure have been completed and will be debated in the House of Assembly next Tuesday and Wednesday December 7 and 8.
And, Prime Minister(PM), Dr. Ralph’ Gonsalves speaking on NBC Radio’s Your Morning Cup’ program for Wednesday ,December 1 said in this time of the coronavirus pandemic and in the aftermath of the eruption of La Soufriere, there are several issues to consider in context of the resources that are available.
The PM said the estimates must look at what is priority and “what are the house keeping matters to keep going” as well as the strategic plans and how these things are financed and in what time frame.
“I am not just talking about the regular monthly bills you have to pay in terms of salaries and wages and allowances and to pay for the water and to make sure you pay for the electricity and the telecommunications and the supplies to keep the plant ticking…which is a considerable amount of money,” PM Gonsalves noted.
He said items like salaries, wages, allowances, National Insurance Services (NIS) contributions, the payment of public servants pensions are monthly and a huge undertaking, but so are constructing sea and river defenses, housing rehabilitation (especially after the volcanic eruptions), hotels, the Acute Referral Hospital and the port.
Gonsalves said the projects mentioned are huge strategic plans so government has to look at where there are funding gaps and how funding is being organised…”and that has been taking up a lot of my time and the ministry of finance.”
He said that consultations have been concluded, however, “now and again, a few later things come in from this or that senior public servants where they had not been sufficiently alive and alert to particular questions and after you have interrogated them, they may submit something later.”
Noting that a final reflection was done at Cabinet level on Wednesday, he said that the estimates should be in the hands of all Members of Parliament by today, Friday December 3.
They will have this weekend to peruse the document as debate on the estimates will be done next week, and the budget presented on Monday, December 13 by Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves.
The PM also noted on Wednesday that there are some time constraint issues that must be managed carefully during the estimates and hopefully, both sides can agree along with the Speaker of the House that everyone does not have to speak.
Last year’s estimates amounted to EC$1.21 billion.