January 29, 2010
Opposition Leader says 2010 Budget is a fraud

“All the big budget talk is a bag of nonsense!”

Leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace has described the 2010 budget presented by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves as a “sleight of hand, designed to deceive the uninformed” that has him “annoyed and ashamed.”{{more}}

Describing the budget with a number of colorful adjectives and phrases, including ‘padded’, ‘a pack of cards’, ‘a concoction’ and ‘a fraud perpetrated on the people of this country here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,’ Eustace said that it was being presented at a time when the state of governance is at its worse.

“We have great incompetence and mismanagement by this administration. We are tethering on the brink of bankruptcy.”

Reading from an East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) report, Eustace said that apart from Anguilla, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the only other country that had shown negative growth and inflation for 2008.

From the report, he compared this country’s negative growth rate and increase in inflation against the other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) territories and declared that this was not acceptable by any standards.

“I am convinced that part of the problem lies in the way that VAT was implemented. The basket of goods which we used to measure inflation is heavy with food items.”

The Opposition Leader said that although a number of items were taken off VAT in the current budget, a lot of other things needed a zero rating.

“I believe that the removal of VAT from several more items is a greater stimulus that the $200.

“The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends in 2010 to spend $ 913 million. This compares to the expenditure in 2009 of $792 million.

“This represents an increase of 121 million dollars or 15.2 percent…. The plain and simple fact is that you are behind by 108 million dollars on the recurrent budget. Nothing of this magnitude has ever happen in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before.”

Eustace said that close attention needed to be paid to the public debt, which he said stood at $1.19 billion as at September 30 last year.

“This budget is as vulgar as any budget that I have ever seen,” Eustace lamented.

This budget has once again failed to meet the expectation of the Vincentian public. It was consistent with others that went before it. It contains a mass of confused ideas… It is clueless with respect to our current realities and fails to offer appropriate solutions.”

“The prime minister is demonstrating that this situation is getting beyond him. It is getting too big for him, and he is not addressing the issues in the appropriate manner. He should do the proper thing and resign.

“Vincentians are ready to usher in a new era of truthfulness, transparency and accountability,” Eustace said.