Budget does not facilitate sustained growth

Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has described the 2019 Budget as a “mishmash of projects which would not raise the growth rate over the long-term.”

Responding Thursday to the 2019 Budget which was presented in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Dr. Douglas noted that the paltry growth rate in 2017 and the apparent poor performance in 2018 is a major source of concern to him.

He told lawmakers and the country that the budget does not outline any strategy aimed at the improving the growth rate.

Looking at the Draft Estimates he noted it shows a current account surplus of EC$157.5 million estimated for 2019.

“But this surplus is due entirely to estimated Citizenship by Investment Revenue of EC$230 million shown under the heading “Non-Tax Revenue.” Indeed, without the Citizenship by Investment Revenue the Estimates for 2019 would have shown a mammoth deficit of EC$72.5 million,” said Dr. Douglas, the former prime minister and minister of finance.

“Similarly, the overall balance of EC$41.1 million would suddenly become a huge and unsustainable deficit of EC$188.9 million. It is also important to note that the actual overall surplus (without the Citizenship by Revenues) for 2017 was EC$86.6 Million. So that the situation is deteriorating dramatically. In just two years, the overall deficit, without citizenship by investment revenues, is projected to increase by more than 118%,” Dr. Douglas said.

“If we suddenly lost the proceeds of the citizenship by investment programme, we would have to find EC$188.9 million to balance our books and to prevent a dramatic accumulation of debt,” the opposition leader surmised.

Dr. Douglas is of the view citizens at risk of having to bear heavy taxation to fill the huge revenue gap that would arise if the CBI program collapses