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Budget preparations on track

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is not promising any ease in taxes in the upcoming Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, neither is he saying if there will be any additional belt-tightening measures.

However, Sinckler told journalists today that preparation of the highly anticipated statement was on track and a date should be set by next month.

He made the comments following the official blessing and opening of the Financial Services Commission’s (FSC) new offices at Building #4, Harbour Industrial Estate.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, following the official opening of the FSC’s new offices in Harbour Road.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, following the official opening of the FSC’s new offices in Harbour Road.

Asked specifically if Barbadians should expect some additional belt-tightening measures or some ease when the budget is presented next month, Sinckler said “that depends on the circumstances”.

“We are in a fiscal consolidation period. We have asked the country to keep faith in us as we extend some of those measures for another year as I indicated in the Ministerial Statement in December.

“Our medium term goal is to pull back on the incidence of tax [and] to do the process of tax reform, which we have indicated for some time we are going to do. And, of course, we had the study done by the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and looked at by a number of sectors in Barbados and we will be moving forward with some of the critical aspects of that,” said Sinckler.

He added that the “eventual goal” of the Government was to reduce taxes and control Government’s expenditure in the current economic circumstance while continuing structural reform of the economy.

“[We want] to let those things coalesce in a general economic policy that will rebound to the benefit of the country. So that is the ultimate goal, but of course it has to be done in context of what we are able to do at any given point in time,” said Sinckler.

In relation to the date of the budgetary exercise, Sinckler said “we are on stream with that”.

In mid-December last year Sinckler told the House of Assembly that the intention was to present the Budget in April this year, once Government’s 19-month stabilization programme comes to an end.

“We have completed the first and second sessions of the exercise, and the technical staff is now working on the third phase. That should be completed in a couple weeks and it should then come to me. Again, we will sit down with the top economic planners and the financial analysts and do what we have to do to finalize. And, of course, the document goes to print and we work with the leadership of the House, both from the Government and Opposition side, and determine when specifically in March we do that week of debating of the Estimates,” he explained.

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