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The independence “goodies”

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09.NOV.07

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves once again has managed to steal the limelight and score political points on his opponents. He used the occasion of his Independence Day address to the nation to answer his critics on the performance of the economy and to pacify public servants disgruntled about the effects of rising living costs on their pay packets.{{more}}

Riding on the crest of economic performances, deemed “second to none” in the Eastern Caribbean, the Prime Minister chose to share the benefits of this economic bounty with “the working people”, to quote him. Thus there is a triple package of salary increase, increases resulting from a long-overdue reclassification exercise, and the Christmas bonus that his government has instituted as an annual practice. In addition to the public servants, there are goodies for pensioners, for those on public assistance, and for banana farmers. As if all this were not enough, the P.M. has announced that his 2008 Budget, to be presented in December, will contain more tax relief measures.

All these measures have undoubtedly warmed the hearts of the expectant beneficiaries and must have enhanced the political standing of the P.M. and his government. He has astutely moved to quiet the under-swell of grumbling about falling living standards. With the government expected to join its CARIFORUM counterparts in signing an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, 2008 and beyond appears to be quite challenging economically. The government largesse will go some way towards appeasing fears of the future.

We look forward to the 2008 Budget, particularly in regard to measures aimed at building on our economic success, consolidating the forward march, stimulating investment and shoring up our critical economic sectors.

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