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Can this Budget sustain itself?

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Editor: Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves presented the 2009 Budget on Monday, 1st December, which I found quite interesting. I am of the opinion that most Vincentians paid special attention to his presentation because they wanted to find out what kind of benefits were in it for all of us.{{more}}

Against the background of the global financial turmoil, 2009 will be a challenging year. I listened to the Opposition Leader, Hon. Arnhim Eustace, saying that he is not supporting Budget 2009. I don’t agree with him. I think there are aspects of Budget 2009 that are very good and should be accepted by all Vincentians.

When Senator Francis made his presentation on Budget 2009, that’s where Mr. Eustace’s weakness was shown up. Senator Francis painted Eustace’s weakness quite convincingly. However, there are some questions I would like to hear our Prime Minister answer in these hard times: Can this Budget sustain itself? Is it a good sign that the recurrent expenditure continues to increase? Why does the public sector investment programme pose significant challenges? Why under the Unity Labour Party Government, in my opinion, only the construction sector seems to be showing growth? Why 20% of the population is unemployed? Why 30% of the people live below poverty line? It is said by our Prime Minister that the ULP is poor people party, could people say that since 2001 that they are better off? I don’t think so!

The Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, in his 2009 Budget presentation, in my opinion, did not place enough emphasis on the issue of crime and criminal activities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Let’s just reflect and think about the number of homicides that have taken place over a period of time.

Mr. Eustace keeps telling us that the economy is not doing well, but the Prime Minister said he is advised that the economy is doing well, but it is inflation which is creating problems for poor people to survive. If it’s about poor people, the PM and his ULP need to come clean about why the cost of living is so high. Some kind of incentive needs to be given to persons in the fishing industry, tourism sector, and agriculture sector, which all seem to be in decline. Mr. Eustace pointed out to us that these industries are declining, but Ministers Daniel and Beache did not agree with Mr. Eustace, but I am yet to be convinced by Ministers Daniel and Beache that they have the answer, much less, the solution.

In closing, for this year’s writing, Ministers Baptiste, Thompson and Slater tried their best, but not like Minister Burgin, who was all over the place. Senators Forde, Saboto Caesar and Leacock, in my opinion, were the best in their presentation to Budget 2009.

All the best to the readers of this newspaper. Have a Merry Christmas, and may the good Lord continue to bless you all!

Look out for more letters in 2009.

Kingsley DeFreitas