Deputy Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Joseph Andall has dubbed the 2016 budget presentation as “typical” from Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The Grenadian leader has been accused by opponents of delivering a presentation that was more political in substance and lacking in pointing the way forward for the development of the island.
According to Andall, the 2016 budget was laced with false truth and described the so-called “real billion dollar budget” as indicated by the Prime Minister as an admission that his own million dollar budget of 2015 was unrealistic.
The NDC No.2 leader was speaking on a popular morning talk show on Tuesday in which he dealt with the 2016 budget that was presented last Wednesday at the Grenada Trade Centre.
Andall said that talk of “the real billion dollar budget” was Dr. Mitchell’s way of admitting that he over did it for 2015.
“Dr Mitchell said this was the real billion dollar budget. He seems to have forgotten that last year he spoke of the billion dollar budget which was slightly bigger than this year’s and used the exact words – ‘this is the real billion dollar budget’.
“…So I think this is an admission by Dr Mitchell that the first real billion dollar budget (of 2015) was a bust. I believe that any government would like to see its budget come to fruition but we must always make sure that the numbers that we put forward are realistic.
Andall made specific mention about the “failure” of the Citizen by Investment or passport selling scheme that was supposed to make enough money for government to help finance capital projects in the 2015 budget.
“If we look for example (at) the performance of the Citizen by Investment Bill which according to last year’s estimates was supposed to provide for about 1/3 of the monies to fund the capital budget, the programme was a total failure even by the figures presented to us by the government itself.
“…What we really need to look at is not so much the big numbers that are floating about, how realistic are they, where and how the government will be able to raise financing to implement especially the capital side of the budget.
“There are some things that you can plan for, you can project for and then there are some things that are like a lotto ticket, you may or may not come up and when you go into serious planning you must have something more solid on which to base it than something that quite frankly very iffy, to put it mildly.
The Prime Minister admitted in the budget address that ‘the area of the 2015 budget which has not met our expectations is grants from the National Transformation Fund (NTF) under the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI)”.
“We project to collect only $12 million compared to the budgeted $124.9 million, thereby curtailing capital expenditure”, he told Parliament.
Andall is disappointed that Agriculture was not included as one of the priority areas of the 2016 budget.
“If we are to get out of the economic hardship…we must find ways to invest in things that we have, that have the potential to move forward, to transform the economy in a serious way. So talking about how many investors you have lined up, by now everyone can say that that was just an empty promise designed to deceive and capture voters…you come back with the same investors line up again and the same jobs, jobs, jobs.
“…Now if you’re going to attract investors you have to try to align the investments with what you have that can develop your economy. So simply bringing in the odd real estate speculator, destroying our green spaces, destroying mangroves and so on while at the same time we try to promote our country as Pure Grenada, we have a government that is delivering, mashing, destroying forest…you need to get people who are serious, who have a genuine plan to develop any specific areas of the economy that will result in benefits of (the) country in a sustainable way.”