It is good that real debate has returned to the People’s Parliament. The people of Grenada are the winners and not partisan political interests.
I listened attentively to the presentation by the Hon. Prime Minister and the response by the Hon. Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition. The Hon Prime Minister presented a pragmatic agenda for the future while the Opposition Leader focused on past glories and self-aggrandisement. He desperately tried to defend his legacy and love for “poor people.”
To the ordinary citizen, the pragmatic approach wins every time. Of note, the Leader of the Opposition attacked the credibility of the 2023 Budget by pointing out what he described as glaring inconsistencies.
In concluding the debate, the Prime Minister responded to only one of the areas of inconsistency by pointing out the exact page number where the Beautification, Empowerment, Sustainability and Transformation or BEST Programme can be found. He did not address any of the others.
This obviously peaked my interest. I had to do some investigative journalism.
Here is what I found.
(1). The Beautification, Empowerment, Sustainability and Transformation Programme was indeed on page 345 of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year 2023 as stated by the Prime Minister. Clearly no inconsistency between the Budget Speech and the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure as touted by the Leader of the Opposition.
(2). Mention was made of inconsistencies with the growth projections for 2023, wherein one document said the economy will expand further and another document said the economy will decelerate. The budget documents clearly pointed out that the economy will expand further by 3.6 % next year following on the 6% growth this year. What is instructive to note is that an economy can expand further at a decelerating pace relative to a previous year. No inconsistency here as well!
(3). The claim was made by the Leader of the Opposition that the allocation for agriculture in the budget speech is different from the actual allocation under the Vote (64). This turns out to be the case. As an avid listener to the budget debates, I recalled someone raising this issue last year. I checked the last two budgets under the prior Administration and the same pattern exists where the Budget Speech quotes a higher figure than what is quoted under the Vote (64).
The explanation given in previous budgets is that programmes such as the Agriculture Feeder Roads and the Climate Smart Agriculture project, which are budgeted under different Votes, are added to give the true allocation for the Agriculture sector. No inconsistency whatsoever with this year’s budget.
(4). The claim was made that the Budget Speech speaks to selling of Government assets on page 13 to finance Government expenditure. Again, this is proven to be baseless. The very said page states that there will be no financing from selling of assets.
What is unbelievable is that every inconsistency that was mentioned turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors – All LIES and SPIN.
Did the Leader of the Opposition deliberately tried to mislead the nation on the Budget with lies and spin to make himself look good?
As young people will say, “make that make sense.” You come last with that Mr Opposition Leader.