A budget to take Barbados forward
This week’s budgetary proposal by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, The Hon. Christopher Sinckler, outlines a positive growth and development path for a country which has its sights set on a sustainable development future. The policies outlined in the budget were visionary, practical and took into consideration all of the challenges which a small island developing state with limited resources would have to encounter on its road to progress. Those who absorbed the details with a critical, analytical mind would have to say that all of the major economic basis were thoroughly dealt with and if this budgetary policy is properly implemented and executed, the future will be bright for Barbadians.
Our Minister of Finance, Prime Minister, members of the cabinet and the parliamentary team should be congratulated for showing that they have the best interest of this country Babados at heart. At the end of the day one can be sure that the Freundel Stuart led administration has delivered a 2015 budget which will take Barbados further along on its journey to being: social balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterized by good governance.
Before highlighting the positives in this 2015 budgets we first must speak of the accomplishments from the previous budget. This budget has been designed and constructed on the backdrop of having achieved more than 90% of the target and objectives set in the 2013 budget. The home grown 19 month fiscal stabilization and economic revitalization programme has worked our revenues have increased and our expenditure has been reduced allow us to trim the fiscal deficit to roughly 6% and for the economy to recognize a primary surplus for the first time in many years. If the same discipline and prudent economic practices are maintained in the implementation of the 2015 budgetary proposal this country and its people will be operating in a more optimistic economic climate.
Now the focus of this budget is to capitalize on the growth opportunities available while implementing prudent measure to increase government’s ability to collect the revenue necessary to pay for the social services and maintain the standard of living which we have developed over the years. The budget also introduced measures to improve the Performance Management Framework for Statutory boards and state owned enterprises as well as taking steps to prepare government to operate in an environment with Fiscal Responsibility Laws. The budget also lays the foundation for serious discussion and steps to be taken to bring about much needed social sector reforming, and identifying innovative ways to finance key social services.
The direct subsidy for milk farmers will redound to sustained benefits in three ways. It will reduce the cost of milk making it more readily affordable. This should result in increased consumption and better nutritional intake especially for children. Lastly, it should result in an expansion in the dairy industry. More players can now enter the market with milk products for Barbadians. This is a government that thinks long terms and looks out for the well being of its people.
We all know the unbearable cost which avoidable non-communicable diseases such diabetes is placing on the country. The government of Barbados provides free of cost most of the drugs required to treat diabetes; millions of dollars on an annual basis. How can we continue to sustain it? The decision to place the excise on sweetened drinks was long in coming and it is absolutely necessary. With any hope manufacturers, especially small businesses would be encouraged to offer unsweetened juices to the public and Barbadians would make a conscious decision to reduce their intake of sweetened beverages. Perhaps we will drink more milk.
The capitalization of the health care capital expenditure trust fund is again another forward thinking initiative which attempts to address the worrying issue of how do we pay for our health care system. The air time excise tax on mobile phones will create an injection of funds which will be made available to the education of our people.
Over the next few weeks we will take the time to continue the good work of the DLP parliamentarians in explaining the policies in the 2015 budget. That is the job of a responsible government.
Unfortunately, yet again Ms. Mottley did not rise to the occassion to show herself as capable of doing anything other than trying to fight Cahill for the contract to turn waste to energy.
In having a socially balanced Barbados we all must play our part. We must work together.
Congratualtions to team DLP on a masterfully crafted budget which creates a Barbados which is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterized by good governance.