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Mar 13, 2015

Budget Will Remain Focused On Development

Dean Barrow

For fiscal year 2014/2015, there is a projected overall deficit of one hundred and forty-one million dollars, a two point five percent increase from its initial estimate. That, says Prime Minister Barrow, is the direct result of government’s focus on people-centred, country-centred spending.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The U.D.P. political directorate is unrelenting in its mission. And that mission, we are happy to tell the world, is to infrastructurally overhaul our country; increase social assistance and protect the poor; create jobs; and improve the quality of life for every single Belizean man, woman and child. We must spend in order to do this. We must lighten the heavy load of fiscal consolidation in order to do this. We must take full advantage of the opportunity to borrow at one percent interest, below even the rate of inflation, in order to do this. We must sidestep the oppressive orthodoxy of “statistics, damn statistics” and focus clearly on the flesh and blood uplift of our people, in order to do this.  Thus it is that in the climate of a sound economy where G.D.P. growth is three point six percent and unemployment fell by ten percent, the U.D.P. will bypass metrics rooted in dogma and continue with the policies that have produced the unprecedented progress of the last two years. But back to the figures. Total revenue and grants are projected to be nine hundred and fifty-nine million dollars, or some three million dollars above budget. This is notwithstanding the decreases in revenues from declining local petroleum production, and the sharp tax fall attendant upon the precipitous drop in the price of imported fuels in the latter months of the fiscal year. Thankfully, revenues from the Shipping and the International Business Companies Registries, which were the key drivers of the heightened revenue performance in the previous fiscal year, were stable this year and in line with the budget estimates. On the expenditure side, total expenditure for fiscal year 2014/15 is projected at one point one billion dollars, which is eighty-nine million dollars above budget. Current expenditure increased by twenty million dollars, attributed mainly to the hike in Personal Emoluments following the 2014 Salary Rises for public officers and teachers. Here again, it is a cost well worth absorbing. Development Expenditure also increased by almost sixty-nine million dollars above the budgeted figures.”

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