Eustace calls on government to be honest about deficit budget
January 18, 2013

Eustace calls on government to be honest about deficit budget

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has expressed the view that something needs to be done about the issue of the government presenting a deficit budget.{{more}}

“It is a very serious matter for the finances and the economy of this country, because we are projected to raise $508 million, but spending $622 million; so there is a gap,” he said during his contribution to the budget debate on Tuesday.

“If you pay all the bills of $113.7 million, how do you finance that?” he questioned.

This, he said, could have very serious implications for the finances and economy of the country.

“But we are having a $113 million deficit and want to hide it.”

The government’s expenses included wages and salaries, pensions and National Insurance Service payments, other transfers, interest payments, goods and services, as well as the principal and sinking fund on the national debt, which Eustace said amounted to $87 million.

“It’s not a projection that is based on the size of our debt. So we have to take into account that we will pay that debt and pay the rest in salaries and transfers.

“This is a difficult issue, as simple as it seems, and goes to the heart of much of our financial distress in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the Opposition Leader said.

“It is something that we have to come to grips with; we can’t come up with fictitious figures every year to cover those revenues.

“We must be truthful and come forward with some ideas,” he said.

He further explained that in the Estimates it was stated that the government was going to raise the $113 million under the category “Other Receipts”.

“What are ‘Other Receipts’? This is where we are supposed to get the $113 million, from other receipts; what is that?” he questioned, saying that he believed that that was just put in there to fill in the gap.

“Other Receipts” were supposed to be items that government generates revenue from by disposing of something, for example land, Eustace explained. He, however, said that revenue from land sales was already accounted for under another heading.

“So, what is the government getting rid of?”

According to Eustace, the average money collected under this heading over the past 10 years was $2.8 million.

“What I am trying to show here, is that you are not going to collect that money here.”

He called on the government to be honest and state the truth, which he maintained was that there was no money to fill the deficit.

“I spend time on it every budget and I am not stopping, because it needs to be addressed…over time we must come to an approach as to how to overcome that,” Eustace said. (DD)