Strong: Anticipation of what the government will reveal given the global uncertainties
Monday’s budget is a crucial opportunity for the Mia Mottley administration to set out how it intends to put Barbados on a solid foundation to grow, prosper and develop, said Canada-based Barbadian economist Carlos Forte.
Outlining a series of questions for the government to answer to demonstrate how it will improve the lives of Barbadians in the short term and help them achieve their medium and long term aspirations, he identified relief from the rising cost of living and direct answers on the country’s growth prospects among the key areas.
“How will the government propose to provide relief from the soaring cost of living that has plagued the country since June last year? Will the government finally deliver on its promise to cap taxes on petrol at the pump to ensure that despite rising international oil prices, petrol in Barbados does not exceed 4 $ per liter? Bear in mind that the combination of excise taxes, fuel tax and VAT accounts for nearly 30% of the cost of petrol at the pump in Barbados,” he said.
Forte suggested that to further cushion the blow of rising prices, the government should follow through on its stated intentions to reduce import duties and value-added tax (VAT) on the freight component of imported goods.
He would also like to know if farmers will get relief on their water bills and a clear timetable for implementing the government’s manifesto commitment to reduce property tax.
Apart from questions related to the cost of living, the economist suggests that Barbadians will want to know if the country will experience economic and employment growth this year.
“Does the government still expect the double-digit growth announced by the Central Bank a few weeks ago? Will any of the various previously announced public and private sector infrastructure projects start this year? When are they supposed to start?
“What will be the government’s economic growth strategy?” What will be the Government’s post-COVID economic recovery plan? How is Barbados living responsibly with COVID, growing the economy and creating jobs? ” He asked.
Forte added that Prime Minister Mottley needs to be open about a possible extension of his International Monetary Fund (IMF) program when it expires later this year and the implications of exiting or extending the deal.
He said Barbadians should know if they can expect further belt tightening in order for the government to meet its ambitious fiscal consolidation targets under the IMF programme.
“Economists know, and the IMF has said, that over the next four years Barbados will need to make up lost progress in managing primary fiscal surpluses large enough to help reduce the country’s huge debt burden. . How will Monday’s budget address these competing imperatives of economic growth, mitigation of soaring prices, debt reduction and the continued need for housing? These are just some of the prescriptions we can expect from Monday’s budget presentation,” the Commonwealth specialist said.
Forte welcomed the decision to deliver a budget speech, the first in two years, suggesting there is a lot of anticipation surrounding the financial package given the uncertain global environment.
He insisted that Barbadians have always looked forward to a budget to provide certainty about what they should expect in terms of their prospects for improving their economic and social well-being over the 12-18 coming months.
“For years they anticipated what they could expect in terms of jobs, tax relief, housing, improved health care delivery and access, better public transport, education and, of course, opportunities for themselves and their children. In short, Bajans look to a budget to identify how the government will help them achieve their aspirations. Jamaicans, Grenadians, Canadians , Aussies and Brits are no different,” he said. Barbados TODAY.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday, it was announced that Barbadians can expect to know what measures the government will implement to boost overall economic growth, create jobs and rejuvenate key traditional sectors. while encouraging emerging industries in areas such as renewable energy. energy and the blue economy. [email protected]