New Budget, Same Old Hot Air

On the face of it, it seemed the prime minister’s press secretary was determined this week to make life easy for the nation’s journalists by taking it upon herself to offer the media the “Budget at a Glance”—a summarized version of the Budget presentation by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

I am no economist and therefore will leave the deciphering, decoding and demystifying of the 2013 Budget presentations to those more talented than I. But judging by the various speeches there seems to be little to suggest a vision or a plan to rescue the nation from the  deep financial hole in which it finds itself. Instead, the nation was subjected to the same old  grandstanding rum-shop maipwis. Oh, how I wish the press secretary could’ve chastised the offending MPs in the same way that she recently admonished the young students who had participated in a mock parliamentary debate, during which they mimicked real MPs.

One could not but wonder whether the various MPs get points or more money to spend in their constituencies every time they say: “Mr Speaker.” Or when they revisted the wrongs commited by their opposites in the House.

The award for best name caller this week should go to tourism minister Lorne Theophilus and Moses Jn Baptiste, the agriculture minister. Over and over the last mentioned alluded to complaints and charges by former minister Ezekiel Joseph, time
that might’ve been better spent announcing serious plans for agriculture, particularly in the areas of diversification, the barely alive banana industry and food security. For his part, Theophilus continued to advertise his obsession with his immediate predecessor Allen Chastanet. How many more times must we hear about Boxing in Paradise and the Food and Rum Festival?

Having spent most of his allotted time challenging Chastanet’s reputation in some quarters as the best tourism minister ever, Theophilus had just fifteen minutes in which to account for his stewardship as the MP for Choiseul.  Even the MP for Central Castries could not resist references, however apologetic, to Chastanet and his dad.

As for Jadia Jn Pierre’s summary, it included this revelation: “Over the years the Budget has been on an increasing trend. However, in an effort to contain expenditure and improve the government’s fiscal position, the 2013/2014 draft Estimates propose funding for expenditure amounting $1.327 billion representing $130.4 million down from last year’s approved estimates of $1.457billion but $42.3 million above the outturn (1.285million) for 2012/13.  The proposed increase over the outturn for 2012/13 reflects to a large extent the upward pressure exerted on the wage bill due to the proposed salary increase.”

In a nutshell, whatever happens from here on out you can be sure the public sector workers will take most of the blame. Do you suppose the government ministers will shoulder at least some of that blame themselves? Stay tuned but don’t hold your breath!

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