KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country’s fiscal situation, at the end of January was “pretty okay” but Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is mindful that “one swallow does not a summer make”.
He made the point in Parliament this week in response to a question by Dr. Godwin Friday, asked on behalf of Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, who missed the sitting because of illness.
Gonsalves told lawmakers that at the end of January, total revenue and grants stood at EC$38.7 million compared to EC$26.3 million, year-on-year.
Current revenue was EC$35.1 million as opposed to EC$26.1 million at the end of the January 2011 while capital revenue and grants totalled EC$3.6 million and EC$186,000 respectively.
Total expenditure was EC$31.2 million, compared to EC$34.06 million at the end of January 2011, while recurrent expenditure was EC$31.4 million and EC$34 million, respectively.
“I just want to indicate that personal emoluments in 2012 in January went up to EC$18.3 million compared to EC$17.3 million for last year January. If you look at interest, in terms of expenditure, interest payments on domestic and external debt was EC$1.4 million compared to EC$1.9 million for the preceding January,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that the current account balance for 2012 is EC$3.98 million compared to minus EC$7.87 million for last year even as the overall balance has a surplus of EC$7.5 million compared to a deficit of EC$7.7 million, year-on-year.
Total expenditure at the end of January 2012 was EC$31.2 million compared to EC$34 million at the end of January 2011.
“The numbers for January, as one may say, look pretty okay. But one swallow does not a summer make, as I always make this point. You can have an excellent January and a February may not be quiet as good … So we need a longer period to notice the trend. So that is how I would, in addition to giving the numbers, as requested, give my opinion, as Minister of Finance, who has been in charge of this business for the last 11 years,” he said.
This country recorded three consecutive years of negative growth ending 2010, and was the only one among 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that the International Monetary Fund said would record negative growth in 2011.
However, the Unity Labour Party government has said that the economy was expected to grow by 0.4 per cent in 2011.