No Need for a ‘Budget’
The following was sent to Barbados Underground’s mailbox to defend government’s decision not to deliver a Financial Statement and Budgetary proposals commonly referred to as a ‘budget’ – Blogmaster
I am bewildered by the call made by some for the presentation of a “budget” in the House of Assembly, as a matter of urgency. The reasons given strike me as uncompelling, given that the definition of a budget is generally a document where the government gives projections of Revenues and expenditures for the coming fiscal year. In accordance with the country’s constitution, such a document has already been debate and passed in the House, it’s called The Estimates. This is really the country’s budget. What I believe the administration’s critics want is a Financial Statement and Budgetary proposals. which is not required by law, but is traditionally presented after the first quarter of the Fiscal year and gives an overview of the previous years’ fiscal and economic performance, and government’s taxation, spending and economic policy adjustments for the current fiscal year. When this administration presented it’s first estimates in 2019 it significantly strengthened the process by bringing the Ministers, permanent secretaries and senior officers in each line ministry before the standing finance committee of parliament to answer questions about all tax dollars they propose to spend in the coming year. As for financial statements, the administration has frequently brought before parliament, statements which show the government’s fiscal performance when compared with earlier projections under the Financial Management act (2019), this was last done by Ryan Straughn on the 16th of November you can watch it here:
To be frank, the only reason the government would bring a so-called “budget speech” now is to increase taxes.This government made it clear earlier in the year that infrastructure and business facilitation was going to be its main response to the deep recession brought on by covid-19 and no new taxes were gonna be pursued. Instead of listing its policy responses and calling it a budget speech. which can be considered “all talk, no action grandstanding” The administration embarked on a number of pro-growth policies, these include:
- The digitisation of CAIPO, which went live two week ago. you can visit the website to register a business at.
- Passed a modern Liquor Licensing Act to improve the process of applying for a license :
- Currently debating the Fair Credit Reporting Bill, which contrary to what conspiracy theories have said is an attempt to significantly improve access to credit from financial institutions by small businesses in the country. For years people have complained about what they had to go through to get a business loan in Barbados, this bill will turn a currently subjective system and make it more objective, faster and more transparent . Even the World Bank and The World Economic forum gave Barbados very low scores over the years on access to credit in their respective rankings. As professor Robinson recently pointed out on Facebook. Remember. This is the same administration which established the Trust Loan fund to allow small businesses to access their first loans and to build a credit reputation, this bill is the next step, I hope it passes in the Senate. The administration is about to go even further with the establishment of a collateral registry for entrepreneurs who do not have traditional collateral to use movable business assets which they have, to access credit in order to expand. This is transformational, as the Jamaica media just reported. A delegation from put Ministry of Small business is current getting advice on setting it up.
- Passed the National Payment system bill in February see here , which among other things. establishes a national real-time Automated clearing house for the first time.In more good news the PM recently stated that it will be going live by March 2022.
- Just passed a sweeping vending bill: Currently engaged in a number of projects to transform Bridgetown to utilize its UNESCO designation. This can already be seen in Fairchild street, Constitution River and will include renovations of the old Treasury buildings.
- This is in addition to infrastructure projects to upgrade and rewire schools to improve wifi connectivity as kids look to return in January see here:
- Road projects across the island see example here:
- A new water deal for farmers and projects to improve access:
- Announced a deal to support the garment manufacturing industry, one of the last half-viable manufacturing industries in the country. Similar to the support for tourism under the BEST programme, which will come with conditionalities.
All of this being done as the administration prepares to roll out the Nation Digital ID. Why announce a budget to grandstand and talk, when you can just implement a competitiveness agenda?