PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet will on Wednesday present the 2017/2018 Estimates of Expenditure of $1.5 billion, some $349,501,346 more than last year’s budget.
This will be Chastanet’s first budget presentation as Prime Minister.
This year’s budgetary process, which begins Tuesday with the Throne Speech by Governor General Dame PearletteLouisy, may be the last year in which the budget period will be divided into two parts.
Initial talks have been held between Chastanet and Opposition Leader, Philip J. Pierre, on reverting to the old system that was changed a few years ago.
Chastanet earlier this week confirmed this during an interview with reporters, stating that government will engage the Opposition in discussions early enough on the next budget process to see how both sides could agree on going back to having one process.
“I want to thank (the Opposition Leader) for taking my call and for the input he made on the process. I think we agreed (to) let’s continue this process,” Chastanet said.
He added: “I am hoping that the next time we have the budget, we can assimilate those two budget processes. But it would require the support and collaboration of the Opposition.”
The Prime Minister further stated that he wanted to ensure the Opposition was not disadvantaged by not having information in attempts to shorten the budget period, which includes two debates, one on the Estimates of Expenditure and the other on policy, expected in the second week of next month.
“We tried to do that this year but given the fact we could only get the budget information out the Friday before the Throne Speech, we felt it inadequate,” Chastanet said.
The presentation of the annual budget in two parts was introduced by former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony in the 2012/2013 financial year. At that time, he said the change would ensure the budget presentation and debate was done in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly.
The principal change was with the Estimates of Expenditure. It was laid in Parliament and debated prior to the delivery of the Budget Address by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.