ST GEORGE’S –The Grenada government Friday presented an EC$1.3 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) budget to parliament overshadowed by the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-29) pandemic.
Finance, Economic Development, Physical Development, and Energy Minister, Gregory Bowen told legislators that the country is in a “fight…literally and figuratively, as we combat an unseen enemy that threatens our very existence and our means of survival”.
But he promised Grenadians that the Keith Mitchell administration was “battle-ready” adding “we have weathered many storms before and we are resilient”
He said the 2022 budget strategy, therefore, aims to address these challenges and provides for a total expenditure, including amortization, of EC$1.35 billion with recurrent revenue pegged at EC$722.2 million and current expenditure estimated at EC$661.7 million.
Bowen said that with a deficit projected for 2022, the government will need EC$98 million more financing than what it expects to generate from domestic revenues and grants, to meet all of its obligations.
But he told legislators that due to “our fiscal responsibility and the tremendous sacrifices made by the people of this country, we have already identified the funding to fully close this gap”.
He said external sources, comprising of new loan disbursements minus principal repayments, will amount to EC$14.4 million.
“One of the key sources of new external loan disbursements is a budget support operation with the World Bank to the tune of US$25 million or EC$67 million, which will become available in the first quarter of 2022.”
Bowne said other sources, including the draw down from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, will amount to EC$83.6 million and that the situation is testimony of government’s prudent fiscal management since 2014, “which has better positioned the country to accumulate fiscal buffers, which can in turn help to mitigate against shocks, such as the one we are currently battling”.
Bowen said the island owed a debt of gratitude to the frontline workers for keeping the population safe during this pandemic ‘and while we applaud their hard work and sacrifice, we also know that much more will be required of them and us, as COVID-19 remains a clear and present danger”.
He said the government is providing a special allocation of six million EC dollars to support the continued fight against COVID-19 through the Ministry of Health, which has been allocated a total of EC $97.1 million for the fiscal year, an overall increase of US$2.2 million relative to 2021.
The budget also makes provisions for the sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. (CMC)