Delinquency in financial payments by governments of the region continue to impact on the ability of important regional agencies and organizations to function efficiently and at capacity.
Word on this has come from Minister of Finance and Economic Development Camillo Gonsalves.
In his presentation of the 2021 budget to parliament on Monday, Gonsalves highlighted the critical importance of certain regional bodies to the functioning of governments and the support to, and effectiveness of, programmes including those relating to health and security.
Among the regional organizations named by the finance minister were: the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan-American Health Organization, the Regional Security System (RSS), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Caribbean Meteorological Services, the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and the OECS.
“They are also collective entities upon which multiple nations in our region depend. Unfortunately, the functioning of these essential agencies is significantly stymied by from time to time by irregular and insufficient funding. Our government’s, and those of our neighbours, have been guilty at one time or another of racking racking-up arrears to these entities.
“Their own emergency services to us at this particular time were hampered by various financial challenges. It is an untenable state of affairs,” the finance minister said.
Gonsalves announced a fiscal measure – a one percent increase in service charge at the Customs – which is projected to raise an estimated $10 million to contribute to the funding of regional organizations.
“While we have been cautious not to impose income tax measures at this time, and indeed postponed many of the fees and measures passed in last year’s budget, it is precisely the nature of the times and our challenges that demand our response today.
We simply cannot manage the pandemic and the volcano without properly funded regional institutions,” he said.