Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Investment critical to growth

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Investment is critical to our growth.

That was the sentiment expressed by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley yesterday during the presentation of the  Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals 2023 in Parliament.

Mottley said that Barbados’ economic growth and the subsequent easing of the financial burden on citizens hinged on investment, whether it was from the Government or the local and international private sector.

She said: “It must be investment vehicles for the small people, not just the large. That investment must equally be respectful of our people, our national spaces and our traditions.”

There will be investment across all sectors of the economy in the coming fiscal year as the Mottley administration strives to achieve its goal of making Barbados a world class destination by 2030.

Despite the Health Service Levy providing what is expected to be a minimum of $75 million, the Government will be providing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) with a further $139 million for its operations. Another $5.5 million has been provided to ensure the expanded Accident and Emergency (A&E) is completed in an attempt to make it more responsive to the people’s needs. There will be $5 million allotted for the rehabilitation of the Lions Eye Care Centre which was built by Lions International in 1992 at a cost of $7 million.

There will be money placed for the University of the West Indies but the Government is keen to hold discussions with the institution to make sure that the areas of study being offered better match the national development needs.

Drivers will be happy to know that there is funding in the new fiscal year for the fixing of roads as $27.6 million is being committed through the CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) road rehabilitation project. The Ministry of Public Works is also looking at new ways of fixing roads.

Barbados Water Authority headquarters in the Pine FP

The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will receive $20 million to update the reservoirs and water distribution network.

“Once the Water Authority literally could not enforce against Barbadians for bills, it meant that the last three years we have been having to commit and help them with its Capital Works programme, largely because of a reduction in revenue over the last three years,” Mottley said. “The last two years we paid $30 million and this year it will be $20 million.”

The BWA’s books will be boosted by an $80 million grant from the Green Climate Fund, the world’s largest climate fund which is mandated to support developing countries raise and realise their nationally determined contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.

A tissue culture laboratory will be constructed at the cost of $15.3 million to ensure the provision of clean planting material which would ensure Barbados become an exporter of key products like sweet potatoes and peppers. According to the Prime Minister it is “a prospect that has been abandoned for too long in this country”.

She noted that the Ministry of Agriculture Indar Weir will be measured by his performance in being able to boost exports, while at the same time, working with the private sector in the establishment of the Barbados-Guyana food terminal. His role will be to make sure the value added tax (VAT) can boost the level of exports.

The Barbados Youth Advancement Corps will have new dormitories at the cost of $8.5 million. This is an attempt to curb the increase in crime across the island by providing “stable and sober opportunities when they leave school”. She said the previous catering toward 200 people was barely making any effort.

Mottley expanded on that point by saying: “You can only transform with scale. That is why a thousand students per year now that COVID-19 is over; we’re working both in the programme and with private sector support in the second year. In order for that to happen, we need to keep these youngsters initially in a dormitory type arrangement.”

More money has been budgeted for those who are vulnerable in Barbados. The Welfare Department, The Child Care Board and the child and parental coaching programme will receive $32.5 million, $20.6 million and $2.5 million, respectively.

The Community Elderly Care Programme, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue and will receive $9.7 million to continue to operate.

The Smart Energy Fund will receive $8.1 million. (JC)

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