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Opposition Leader knocks ULP’s handling of Economy

Opposition Leader knocks ULP’s handling of Economy

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The Unity Labour Party (ULP) Government has become the first in the history of St.Vincent and the Grenadines since Independence to present a deficit budget.{{more}}

This sentiment was expressed by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace on Tuesday, January 25, while delivering his response to Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves’ National Budget presentation.

Eustace stated that a deficit Budget was put forward for the first time in 2010, and now again in 2011.

“For the first time last year, Mr.Speaker, in the history of this country since post-Independence, we had a situation in which, when you exclude the amortization and sinking funds, you still have a deficit. That’s the first time in the post-Independence history of St.Vincent and the Grenadines that has happened, and this year is the second time. Over the thirty years or so that we’re independent, these last two years we’ve had that sort of recurrent debt. That didn’t happen before,” said Eustace.

“In the first eight years of the ULP administration, it didn’t happen; it didn’t happen under the NDP administration,” he pointed out.

Eustace, citing the Tax Commission report on the OECS, said it shows that St.Vincent and the Grenadines had a Recurrent Surplus for over 20 years of 5.32 per cent as Gross Domestic Product until 2010.

“No self respecting minister of finance can be happy with this sort of state of affairs. And steps must be taken, Mr. Speaker, to deal with this matter,” he said.

Eustace said the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year 2011 have a cash deficit of $105 million.

“That is the extent to which our cash is short to meet our expenses,” said Eustace.

The Opposition Leader mentioned that his training in Economics has taught him that in life there are competing needs, but he cautioned that while there are things that are necessary that must be done, there are also things that are not necessary, which means that one may have to do without them.

Eustace charged that the Government has taxed, run down the country’s reserves, sold the Government’s assets, accumulated arrears and held back the paying of bills, but has created a situation with two consecutive years of negative growth.

He said employment has decreased and unemployment has increased, while asking: “So what have we done? What have we achieved? What benefit has been brought to all the people of this country as a result of this present state?”

Eustace stated that the Government has engaged in areas of expenditure that are not necessary, and as a result it has made the situation worse.

He referred to state funds used to fund the ‘Yes Vote’ during the November 25, 2009, Referendum as a waste of the country’s financial resources. (HN)

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