The EC$4 million deficit during the first nine months of 2014 announced by the government this month is not a true reflection of the state of the country’s finances, opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says.
He told a New Democratic Party rally in Glen, on the weekend, that the government must add to that EC$4 million the monies that it owes to the National Insurance Services after it failed to pay workers contribution for several months.
The government has said that that amount is EC$15 million, but Eustace has said it is EC$23 million, a figure that the government has never outright rejected.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Ralph Gonsalves, told the media this month that the current balance during the first three quarters of 2014 was still a deficit, compared to the same period of 2013, but that that deficit had decreased from EC$17.4 million to EC$4 million.
Eustace noted to party supporters that Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the rating of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to B2 from B1, the second downgrade since October 2012.
“But Gonsalves is talking about how well we are doing. I don’t know what eyes he is seeing through or what glasses. I don’t know what’s happening to him, because all the signs around him show decline and he makes these kinds of statements intending to fool the public of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Eustace said.
“He said we are doing a little better in 2014, and he gave all the figures for revenue and expenditure and he came down to the crunch point, and [says] that the deficit in 2014, so far, is only 4 million compared with the same time last year, when the deficit was 17.2 million dollars. So, we are improving, he says.
“I listened to him and I wonder if he has lost his marbles. I really wondered, because in this same year, 2014, and part of last year, 2013, Gonsalves took from the NIS 23 million dollars, to which he was entitled, and used it for government expenditure. That’s what he did,” Eustace said.
“So when he said the deficit improved, it got worse, because that money was not his – it was not revenue coming to government. He took it out of your salary; it was supposed to be paid over to the NIS.
The government has since borrowed EC$15 million from the NIS to repay the EC$15 million it owed to the NIS.