Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition Jamale Pringle has said he is disappointed with the 2019 Budget that was presented in Parliament by Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday.
Pringle said the budget failed to address any plans for growing the country’s struggling economy, and was a repetition of several budgets over the years.
“In 2019 we are still hearing a budget that we heard in 2014; basically the same way in which the government . . . proposed in 2014 to raise revenue for the country via certain projects which we have seen are still in a standstill mode. Those are the same projects they are looking to move this economy forward in 2019; and so, for me, if I had stayed home and anyone asked what is it that happened in the budget, I would just tell them to read 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets,” he said.
Pringle told our newsroom that he thought the major investment projects being undertaken by government would have been further along by this time.
“We are still depending on the Callallo Cay project, which happens to be in my constituency, that you just pass and look at every day, where all they did was to construct a few buildings just before the election in terms of offices and nothing further.
“I think it is a method of fooling the people as to what it is that is really going on. When you look at YIDA, we all know how much they said YIDA would have been investing over a period of time; this is five years now and nothing,” the Leader of the Opposition said.
Meantime, the United Progressive Party’s spokesman for Economic Development, Cortwright Marshall, described the 2019 budget speech as a “propaganda statement”.
He noted there was no suggestion on how the government intends to improve the issues affecting the country. “There’s no indication as to how the government intends to treat with the issues that are affecting the nation. High unemployment, high cost of living, the high national debt – which is still at, according to the Prime Minister, 89 or 72 percent. The whole question of productivity and competitiveness of the nation, and how the government is going to tackle the question of ease to do business. For me there was no budget presentation. It was just another propaganda piece.”
Marshall is also challenging the economic growth rate for 2019, which the government said would be 5.3 percent, saying there was actually a decline as recorded by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Economic Review and the ECLAC report.
“The growth figure in [Prime Minister Browne’s] presentation was a prediction up until June of last year. If you look at the ECCB Economic review, you will see that those figures have been downgraded to somewhere between 4.6 and 4.7 percent, and the same thing with respect to the ECLAC report.
“Yes, the prime minister is saying that there was a growth rate of 5.3 percent, but that is not quite true.” Focus will now turn to the debate on the $1.2-billion budget which gets underway on January 28.