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We have to get back to normalcy or things will get tighter- PM

We have to get back to normalcy or things will get tighter- PM
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves holding a copy of the Supplementary Estimates for 2021

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While the government has managed to maintain fairly reasonable figures in its fiscal operations for the first five months of 2021, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says the country must return to some form of normalcy, lest things get worse in coming months.

Gonsalves delivered a brief report on Tuesday during a press conference, which he prefaced by noting that “the situation is challenging given the demands, but we have been holding it”.

The Prime Minister indicated that up to the end of May 2021, total revenue and grants sat at $286 million – a 16 per cent increase on last year’s figure of $246.6 million.

He added that the current revenue increased by 8.6 per cent; from $242.7 million in 2020 to 263.7 million in 2021.

“Where a big jump took place for example is in stamp duty and alien landholding license. For instance, in the first five months of this year, we collected about $17 million from alien landholding licenses compared to $2.7 million last year,” Gonsalves explained.

This accounts for a 562 per cent increase.

Stamp duty and property also increased by a three-figure percentage point; exactly 311 per cent from $7 million in 2020 to $29 million in 2021.

These large land sales occurred on the Grenadines island of Mustique. 

“We moved 15 million from the contingency fund into the financing programme in this first five-month period, so that provided a further increase in extent of the…total revenue and grants,” Gonsalves said.

He also noted that total expenditure increased by almost two per cent, while capital expenditure went up by about 23 per cent.

The Prime Minister revealed that the government has a current account balance of $6.4 million.

This can be compared to a deficit of $17 million last year and $9 million in 2019 for the same period.

“We have to get back to normalcy. If we don’t get back to normalcy, it’s gonna get tighter as we go down the line. I was very worried about this year when I saw what happened in January, but things improved in February, then March and April we got the Mustique sales and in May we got some of those…We are holding things together,” he said.