DNA member says $1.2 billion budget signals a dwindling economy

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The founding member of the opposition Democratic NationalAlliance (DNA), Anthony Stuart, is warning the government against borrowing money and planning in a way that creates what is already seen to be a major budget deficit. Anthony Stuart, who is set to run for the St. John’s Rural West seat, said it is unwise to depend on the Diaspora Bonds, which the government said would help meet a portion of the deficit which is some 40-plus percent of the $1.2 billion budget.
“What are these diaspora bonds, to fund the deficit which would be about $240 million dollars? The government promised to fund a similar 2017 budget deficit and failed, and in fact it was admitted in the budget statement that there was a shortfall,” he said. Stuart said the other avenue to which the government plans to turn to get money to meet the deficit, is just as unsure a source. In the Budget presentation last week Thursday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the government will be “Raising $207.1 million from Securities issued on the Regional Government Securities Exchange (RGSM) and issuance of a Diaspora Bond” to meet the funding gap.
Stuart noted that the government has been failing to meet the payroll for several government workers and things will only get worse because a budget of $1.2 billion signals that the economy is dwindling. The PM also said that the country will be getting loans and advances of $241.3 million. More than half of this amount represents disbursements from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for road rehabilitation and reconstruction and Barbuda redevelopment.
“The 2018 Budget statement is really a repetition of the unfulfilled promises of 2017 along with some election sweeteners that will only give small sectors of the population, what I call a short-lived sugar high,” he said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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