We have an overall budget of almost $1.2 billion. In 2019, we also went over the billion-dollar mark at $1.067 billion. The budget in 2020 is significantly larger, 11% larger than that of 2019. In 2019, it grew over 2018 and in 2020, it grew even faster. It’s growing bigger and faster.
It is very clear to me and it would be to most of the people of this country that the Minister of Finance and the government are responding to the fact that we are in an election year. This is an election budget. We are now permanently a billion-dollar budget.
What does that mean to the people of this country? Does it mean that the Minister will spend or even intends to spend $1.2 billion in 2020? Or is it just to use the most charitable term an unrealistic wish or a fantasy? Or less generous term, perhaps more accurate to say the budget continues the ‘Big Fat Lie’ that this government has perpetrated on the people year after year because what we see here is a continuation of the same pattern that we have already come familiar with in this House.
It is stated plainly here that they will spend $1.2 billion. They know that they will not and cannot execute that. They cannot achieve it; this is because they do not have the $1.2 billion to spend and they know it, yet they put it in the budget. If the record of the past years of this government is to be relied upon, then it is a safe prediction to make that they don’t have the money to do it. They will not do it and for what its worth they never intended to do it.
Let’s look at where the Minister says the money is coming from, Tax Revenue: $585.6 million; Non-Tax Revenue: $94.3million; total Current Revenue: $680,039,100. And the Capital Receipts: Grants: $60.6 million; External Loans: $118.4 million; Local Loans: $72 million; Capital Revenue: $3 million and Budget Support Loan: $46.9 million.
The Minister explained that the Budget Support Loan came from the International Development Association (IDA) which is affiliated to the World Bank. It’s easy money, long term to repay. And the total Capital Receipts along with Other receipts of $205.3 million becomes $506. 3million.
But the problematic component of that as we have known over the years and I have said this many times, in that $506 million, you have the capital receipts of over $205 million. Last year it went up to $198 million. The history has been as the Minister pointed out; he will collect between 3-4%, most of the time under 10 %. But last year, the government claimed it received $160 million in Other receipts. He didn’t say exactly where it came from.
In the document, Other Receipts is listed under the domestic sources of funding but I find it difficult to imagine that you can raise $160 million domestically. So, the Minister perhaps didn’t think we were interested in that aspect of it. When he rises again will tell us not just that he budget the amount and he raised $160 million of it because it was needed but where did it come from. Is it part of the IDA loan?
How do we suddenly, from hardly receiving any funds from this category collected $160 million? And what is the likelihood that this now continues to be the happy circumstance that every year at the beginning of the preparation of the budget the Minister will not be aware of the source of funding. Therefore, everything else is lump under Other Receipts to balance the budget; in the hope that during the year something will come up and fill that category because that is the only way you can explain why you will have a category of revenue receipts that doesn’t have a specific source.
I think it was explained in the House in a previous debate that there may be an expectation of getting some funding sometimes stronger than others but not yet quite sure that it will materialize or even worst that you don’t know where it is going to come from and hence that category. In its purest sense, other receipt really is an accounting device to make the budget add up because the Minister can’t present a budget. He doesn’t have the money to execute what he is doing. Hence, is to leave it up to us and to others who may have a better understanding as to how these things work.
That category of Other Receipts doesn’t mean the government has the money. That means they don’t know that they have the money. When they tell you; they are going to spend $1.2 billion, don’t believe it because they don’t know where the money is coming from. Because if they knew where it was coming from it would be specified in the estimates.
Other Receipts is 40.5 % of the Capital Receipts. Therefore, almost half of the money that you have in Capital Receipts comes from a category of financing that you don’t know about. Ultimately, what we have characterized this as over the years effectively is really the deficit in the budget that the government has presented. This year, Other Receipt is $205 million, 40.5% of the Capital Receipts. The situation would have been worse had it not been for the borrowing under the IDA programme of $46.9 million which is a new loan that has come on to the Estimates. Why continue to inflate the budget if you know you are $2 million short?
In 2013, Other Receipts amounted to $113 million, in 2015, $154 million, in 2018, $160 million and last year, $198 million, this year $205 million, $7 million more than last year’s. As the deficit gets bigger the lie gets bigger.