Commentary

Part 1: The 2020 Budget – What are we to expect in the New Year?

The ANNUAL BUDGET statement should report comprehensively on the economic performance of the country for the past year. It should be factual, not “selective” to project a good image. The budget statement is a legal requirement, and gives authority for the collection of revenue and the expenditure of funds in a given year. It must also project what is to take place in the coming year.

The 2020 Budget is said to be focused on 4 thematic areas:- Strengthening your institutions, empowering our communities, growing our economy, protecting our environment. This Budget is projected to do none of these things.

GROWING OUR ECONOMY

The projected revenue for 2020 is said to be $786.2 Million, but there is no mention of how this money will be generated. There is no indication of whether there will be any new taxes in the coming year, although already, we see increases in a number of government fees and levies being sneaked on the people. Should we be expecting more new taxes during the year? The Budget needed to be clear on these issues to instill some confidence in the economy.

The National Sustainable Development Plan 2020-2035

It is well known that the social partners initiated the discussion on the National Sustainable Development Plan. First it was to be for 2016-2030 but ended up due to slow progress, as 2020 -2035. The NDC fully participated in this initiative of the social partners, because we believe in long term development planning.

A final draft was recently completed, and when we thought it would return to the people for a final feedback and comments, it was rushed through Parliament for approval.

We of the National Democratic Congress recommend that a final round of targeted consultations be held throughout the country so that we have a Shared Vision for the future of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

If there isn’t ‘buy-In’ and a sense of ownership, by all, we run the risk of the plan not being put into action. The National Development Plan must meet the vision of the Grenadian people.

Although the plan was presented as the framework within which the 2020 Budget will operate, in substance, the Budget reflects a continuation of the policies pursued in 2018 and 2019. It is not well aligned to the Plan. It is therefore necessary to formulate a 3 year medium term strategy to guide the preparation and process of the annual Budget.

Our Economic Performance

With respect to the regional economic performance (and Grenada’s Fiscal Performance), the Minister pointed out that average economic growth in the independent countries of CARICOM is projected to increase from 2.7 % in 2019 to 8.8 % in 2020 largely driven by the Oil Find in Guyana.

That does not tell the entire story. Guyana‘s economy is projected to grow by 86.7 % in 2020 and will be the fastest growing economy in the world because of its oil find.

Where is Grenada’s oil wealth? Were we not told at that rally in Pearls, before the 2018 elections that it was all about to happen for Grenada, and that the Grenadian people should not put their new found oil and wealth into the hands of the NDC?

Where is Grenada’s oil money today? In the 2020 Budget, there is not one mention of our oil and gas resources.

As a people we must ask ourselves “What explains the difference between the Grenada Oil and Gas situation and the Guyana Oil and Gas situation”?

The Budget did not review the performance of Grenada’s economy generally and within the context of the OECS. There have been boasts about strong growth in the economy for several years. But while the OECS economy is set to grow by 4% in 2019, Grenada’s projected growth is 3.2%, well below the average of 4% for the rest of the OECS countries.

The estimated budget for 2020 is $1.15 Billion, the same as was presented in 2016. Where then is the growth?

(The above was submitted by the main opposition National Democratic Congress headed by former Education Minister Franka Alexis-Bernardine)

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