Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday has again accused the government of inflating the category other receipts in order to balance the budget.
In presenting the 2022 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Minister of Finance indicated that under the capital budget which amounted to EC$651.8 million that external receipts were expected to generate EC$546.7 million.
And of this amount, grants were expected to contribute EC$69.7 million, loans – EC$211.6 million and other receipts EC$265.4 million.
“The budget has to balance, no self-respecting minister of finance can come in here and say that we are going to spend $10 but we only have $5,” Friday said in his response to the presentation of the Estimates in Parliament on December 13.
“So, it has to balance, and what they do is essentially to inflate the category other receipts,” he continued.
According to Friday, in presenting the funding government presented the amount EC$265 million to come from other receipts and so there was a situation where there was a large chunk of the budget where funding could not be accounted for.
In recent times, the amount attributed to other receipts was between EC$30 and $40 million, Friday said but now it was EC$265 million.
And every time the opposition raised the issue, it has been dismissed Friday said.
“Either you can raise the money or someone will have to do without and I want the minister to explain how he is going to raise the money,” the leader of the opposition said.
The question therefore was, according to Friday, how was the budget being financed?
All the line items have to be met and all the borrowings are accounted for, so other receipts cannot be made up of those the leader of the opposition said.
He further added that there was little room for borrowing and the money cannot be raised by taxation because according to Friday, the people could not afford anymore taxes.
“So, what it suggests to me is that the estimates as presented as the architecture of the government’s economic thrust for the next year does not point to anything that is positive, transformative or suggests that there is going to be some serious movement to move the economy forward,” the opposition leader said.
But the situation was “getting out of whack” he said, and the number was increasing every year.
Only in the projections were the numbers going down, as had been indicated in the projections for 2023 and 2024.
But according to Friday, that did not happen in reality and was in fact an admission that it needed to be phased out, or that they intended to find the money elsewhere.
“But we are not going to get any further until we admit that this is a problem and the minister comes and tells people what he intends to do with the budget,” Friday said.