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Walcott raps Govt on budget allocations

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Dr Jerome Walcott has rapped Government for “unrealistic figures” put forward in this year’s Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

Debate on the Appropriation Bill 2016 began in the Upper House yesterday, following deliberations in the House of Assembly last week where it was passed after five days of deliberation.

Dr Walcott told the Senate that while he recognized that the figures were merely an approximation of the actual amount, they did not reflect a true picture of the funds needed by the Freundel Stuart administration to undertake various development projects.

“As I’ve said before, the Estimates are estimates . . . but I believe that they should be realistic and achievable at the end of the day, and there is no sense in having ambitious revenue projections and unrealistic expenditure cuts in these documents so as to make it look good to improve your fiscal balance in a theoretical perspective.

“And examples of these abound,” he said.

The Opposition Senator cited as an example the allocation of $21.8 billion for the Barbados Transport Board for the next financial year. He pointed out that $20 million was allocated in the last financial year, with another S21.3 in the supplementary estimate number nine.

“So you already know that when you say it is $21.8 million allocated, that is far short of what you would require,” Dr Walcott staid.

The former Minister of Health pointed to other allocations for the National Housing Corporation and the Ministry of Health, which he said were far short of the amounts required.

He also knocked Government for “failing to achieve important targets which the country should be aiming for” in terms of reducing the fiscal deficit.

“I looked at the Barbados Growth and Development Strategy for 2013 to 2020 and I looked on page 32 in terms of what was expected in 2015/2016. It was anticipated that the gap would be minus two per cent. In this document the gap is minus 6.3 per cent. It is anticipated, according to this document, that the gap will be minus 1.5 percent.  In the Estimates presented here, it is saying it will be minus five per cent.

“All I am saying is that we are taking these documents, we are doing these strategies. Clearly the Government is not adhering to the policies and programmes which they have developed in terms of dealing with the issues that confront this country. There was the 18-month plan, and in spite of that and the sacrifices which have been made by Barbadians, we are still falling short,” Dr Walcott said. (MCW)

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