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Budget of two words

Perhaps the most significant words in the Budget delivered by the Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler last Tuesday are to be found in the sentence: “However to be on the safe side it is government’s intention to go to the international capital markets in the coming weeks, conditions permitting, (my emphasis) to do a bond issuance for further balance of payments support and to support our overall growth initiatives.”

Despite post-budget passage of approval to proceed with the loan request the variables relating to those possible “conditions” boggle the mind. Thoughts run from the scenario of the ability of the negotiators to physically get together at the table, to the requirement that the new monies be used for forward investment and not “backward” settlement of outstanding payments, despite the so-called buy-back of bonds announced after the Budget debate.

Conversely, Government may be required to first settle outstanding payments to the private sector companies which are to be the lynchpin for the so-called growth projects. How much would then be left for investment?

Then again, it could be the interest rates charged or the conditionalities imposed on the Government that might impact negatively the final agreement. Will we be apprised of those conditions before, during or after negotiations?

Indeed, despite the willingness to go forward to seek the loan, the history of recent disbursements of previous loans does not give me any comfort that we shall receive the monies in a timely manner sufficient to create a positive impact on our economy.

Despite all the “long talk”, the results of Budget debate clearly hinge on just two words — conditions permitting.

— Michael Rudder

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