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Government to Target $394.57 Million 2022 – 2023 Budget Deficit

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Philip J Pierre
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Philip J Pierre

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Philip J Pierre says that while government anticipates moderate improvements in the revenue administration and grant receipt from friendly donors, a significant financing gap remains in respect of the 2022 – 2023 Budget.

Pierre, last week, said that based on the projected level for revenue and grants, the budget targets an overall deficit of $394.57 million for the fiscal year 2022-2023. When added to the Principal Repayment for the year a financing gap of $505.1 million is anticipated which will be financed by a blend of foreign and domestic financing resources.

“In addition to Total Revenue and Grants of $1.327 million, it is anticipated that my government will have to borrow a total of $505.12 million comprising $425.4 million, equivalent to 84.2 percent of the total financing requirement for the year from external sources. Domestic financing is expected to be moderate given that much lower amounts are programmed from primarily bonds,” Pierre said.

He added that this is entirely in keeping with government’s strategy of relying on external borrowing on concessional terms rather than the market debt which bears higher interest rates.

“Domestic financing requirement amounts to $79.7 million which is expected to be sourced through various means including Treasury Bills, Treasury Notes and Bonds. The total amount to be raised from external sources will be as follows: Caribbean Development Bank – $57.3 million, International Development Association (IDA) – $ 82.3 million, Republic of China on Taiwan EXIM Bank – $191.8 million CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) – $3.06 million, CDB-Inter-American Development Bank – $8.6 million, Canadian Clean Energy & Forest Climate Facility Fund – $1.4 million, World Bank (Development Policy Credit) – $81 million,” Pierre said.

The prime minister highlighted some of the expenses that government will undertake in this financial year in some of the Ministries. He said an additional amount of $10 million is programmed under the Constituency Development Programme to undertake small community infrastructural projects. An additional amount of $7.2 million on the St. Jude Hospital Rehabilitation Project for settlement of outstanding liabilities. An amount of $300,000  approved to facilitate Saint Lucia’s ascension to the Caribbean Court of Justice. An amount of $954,800 approved for the outstanding amount owed to OJO Labs whose contract expired in October 2021. An amount of $1 million approved for the Disaster fund and an amount of $1 million approved for the Distress fund.

“For the Attorney General’s Office, $500,000 was approved to procure the services of additional Legislative Drafters and $2 million was approved to facilitate the payment of settlements agreed in court cases. A provision of $1 million was made for the consulting services and commission’s office of the Director of Public Prosecutor (DPP), to account for the appointment of a special prosecutor and support staff. For the Swift Justice Project, $456,000 was approved under Recurrent Expenditure.

“That is to assist with the backlog of cases in the courts and a further amount of $2,278,600 was approved for the project. The breakdown for the Swift Justice Project is as follows: • Salaries: $487,100 • Travelling: $35,000 • Stationary supplies and materials: $51,500 • Electricity and water: $63,000 • Rental and hire: $1 million • Operation and maintenance: $12 million • Plant machinery and equipment: $456,000. That is to clean up the backlog of cases that exist in the courts, Pierre said.

Expenses for the Department of Home Affairs and National Security are as follows: An amount of $1,824,500 to be spent on repairs to the Bordelais Correctional Facility. An amount of $1.039 million  earmarked for the removal and replacement of the chain link fencing and replacement of cell locks and worn-out keys at the facility. An amount of $785,000 earmarked for the replacement of skylights and repairs to the inmate toilets, repairs to the metal stairs in the unit, and the purchase and installation of hot water heaters for the laundry, kitchen, and medical unit. There will also be some renovation done to the staff quarters.

The prime minister highlighted the expenses government plans to incur on police and crime which are: Repairs to Police Stations costing about $4.776 million,$1.337 million for the retrofitting of temporary holding cells at the police headquarters on Bridge Street, $2.7 million for repairs of the roof of the Vieux Fort Police Station and $738,000 for the general repair work to various police facilities throughout the island.

“The government is trying to not only talk but add a tangible increase in expenditure for the police. We appreciate their work so they will not only have a more comfortable environment to work in but they can get some training and some equipment, including vehicles, which they need,” Pierre said.

He then highlighted some of the increases to the Grants and Contributions government made in the budget. For instance the Folk Research Centre which building got damaged by fire was given an allocation of $50,000 to help them to begin to prepare their plan, etc. for their new building.

The HOPE programme from the Ministry of Equity will be financed with $2.764 million. The St. Lucy’s Home will receive an allocation to $140,000. The programme “Our Boys Matter” will receive $223,000.

“Apart from the Housing Programme of $20 million in the Ministry of Housing, we are programming $1.316 million for housing assistance to the poor and differently-abled. We are programming another $1.824 million for educational assistance Mr. Speaker. In addition to this financial year, we are going to continue the payment of facility fees in the sum of $2.358 million

Payment of Mathematics and English for CXC will continue this year in the sum of $270,554. There’s an organisation called the “Child Development and Guidance Centre”. It is located in La Clery, doing human service and it’s really touching to see the work that’s done up there. The government is showing appreciation for their efforts, we are increasing the subvention by $150,000  from $230,000 to $380,000 for the Child Development and Guidance Centre,” Pierre said.

Faces of Cancer will receive a contribution of $10,000 while the contribution to the Saint Lucia Cancer Society will increase to $40,000. Contribution to the Saint Lucia Diabetic and Hypertensive Association will amount to $50,000 while Feed the Poor Ministry, will receive $20,000.

Said Prime Minister Pierre, “The National Sports Elite Athlete Education Assistance; we are increasing it from $60,000 to $110,000 and for the National Youth Council we are increasing it to $52,000. The Saint Lucia Fashion Council; we are giving them a contribution of $90,000 this year and the Saint Lucia Bakers Association, are getting a contribution of $30,000 to help them to establish their organisation, make some changes so that we can see what happens and how that manifests itself in the prices. The Saint Lucia National Trust; this year we are returning their $700,000 subvention,” Pierre said.

“I have no doubt that the achievements made since assuming office will continue to be felt in the months ahead as we work steadily and tirelessly towards accelerated recovery, following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the allocations programmed in this budget indicate, we intend to continue to tackle the challenges with boldness and confidence.

“We remain optimistic, assured, and rooted in our resolve to maintain economic stability and chart a path to sustainable growth and development. We will pursue the initiatives and programmes funded in this budget to bring transformative change that will impact the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and we will put the people first,” Pierre said.

“We have approached this budget with the understanding that the current circumstances, domestic, regional, and international, within which we operate and we are strengthening our belief that while current resources may be insufficient to meet the needs of all, our collective potential and our resolve to put our economy on the path of broad-based, inclusive growth will empower our people and propel us forward,” Pierre said.

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