Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Economist: no budget, no problem

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Government’s senior economic advisor Dr Kevin Greenidge sees no need for a Budget speech this year.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who is Minister of Finance, has not delivered a Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in Parliament since March 20, 2019, and there have been calls for her to bring one in light of the economic difficulties Barbados is facing.

Greenidge, who has been advising the Mottley administration since the authorities entered an International Monetary Fund programme in October 2018, however said even without the traditional budgetary proposals, Government was being more transparent with its financial dealings.

“You talk about fiscal policy, you talk about budgeting. I am still at a loss why persons would be asking for a Budget to come when we have had so many ministerial . . . speeches by the Prime Minister, the numbers are there,” he said Tuesday evening during an Accountants Week online discussion on Accountability In A Time Of Crisis.

The economist said Government’s increased budgetary accountability was evident in its fiscal framework 2022/2023 and a mid-year budget review, both recently tabled in Parliament. He also reported that “by the end of this year we expect to adopt regulations for a procedural fiscal rule, which guides fiscal policy”.

“That will require Government to prepare and publish annually a fiscal strategy, not just a budget of numbers, but a multi-year strategy of its plans going forward. Anyone can see that strategy and measure against what you said you would do and what you have done,” he said.

“As an interim step, the Government already tabled in Parliament in August this year a fiscal framework for the fiscal year 2022/2023 containing all of the medium-term projections, discussion of fiscal policy objectives, how we are going to reach the debt anchor by the specific time.

“That was tabled in August and then a mid-year report was sent to Parliament on the 15th of October on what we have done so far to reach that. Now if that isn’t transparency and improving accountability, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Greenidge explained that the proposed fiscal rule “has increased accountability in fiscal policy-making and will allow Government . . . to respond to the pandemic, natural disasters and the like”. (SC)

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