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Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
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The Estimates of Income and Expenditure for 2019 will be debated in parliament on Jan. 23, 2019, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says.

Gonsalves told the 23rd National Convention of his Unity Labour Party in Campden Park on Sunday that lawmakers will debate the Budget on Jan. 29, 2019.  

Last January, Parliament approved an 2018 EC$993,535,449 budget for 2018, a 1.7 per cent increase over the approved budget for 2017.

It was the first fiscal package prepared and presented by Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, after taking over from the prime minister as finance minister in November 2017 and the nation’s first surplus budget in years.

He became the second person to hold the post since the ULP came to office in March 2001.

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At a press conference in October, the finance minister was asked to reflect on his first year in the post.

“The surprise that I have — if I can use that word — is something I hinted at the beginning in my budget speech — is the issue of implementation.”

He said the prime minister has raised a lot of money for a lot of projects in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And they are taking too long to get rolling. They are taking too long to implement,” he said, adding that he has spent a lot of the last few months trying to figure out the cause and possible solutions to the situation.

“And there are a multiplicity of challenges,” he said, adding that some of them are on the side of the funding agencies, including the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union,” the finance minister said.

He added:

“Some of them are internal capacity constraints that we have that I have been working hard to reconfigure — either in the Ministry of Planning or in the Ministry of Works or the Office of the Chief Engineer.

“And we have to reconfigure the way those offices are set up because they were set up at a time when we didn’t have 50 projects totalling $400million to push through and I expect that if there is anything I can tip my hat and say, I expect you would see some different configurations in those offices geared toward better implementation.”

Gonsalves said another constraint is contractors, explaining that many contractors are paid by a funding agency, via the government.

Sometimes contractors overextend by bidding for several contracts only to end up getting all and then realising they don’t have the capacity to manage all of them, Gonsalves said.

He further said a contactor may have five jobs — one EU, one World Bank, one CDB, one Taiwan, and one from the central government.

“That’s five different contracts that this contractor has signed, but, in his mind, they are all government.”

He said that contractors tend to “lay down arms on all projects because he is owed on one or two other projects…

“And we have to be clear that these things can’t go forward like that. That if you are going to be professional, you have to honour each contract individually and it is not a collective arrangement.

“That’s a conversation we have to have with the contractors and with the Tenders Board and with the various funding agencies that fund a lot of our projects.

“Because, sometimes, they, too, overburden contractors and create unrealistic expectations. So one of the big lessons is really that things have taken longer than I anticipate they would take and that their correctives are more complex than first seen on first blush. But I think we are working to resolve some of those issues,” the finance minister said.   

4 replies on “Estimates, Budget debates in January”

  1. Camillo is right about how slowly things occur in SVG. Consider how Russia does things: When the USA had thier Nazi friends overthrow the Government of Ukraine, immediately the Government of Crimea voted to separate from the Ukraine and then had a second vote to be a part of Russia. Over 95% voted to become a part of Russia. Within just a few years they planned and built the bridge connecting Russia to Crimea. The project was a thousand-times bigger than our airport but it took us over 10 years to do that, even with the help of all our allies. After Russia started planning it was done in less than three years.
    Much of the incompetence that is SVG stems from our arrogance and greed. Too many are corrupt and if someone is not, they get eaten by the wolves. It is not only the government, including the police and most all the lawyers, but many of the private sector is corrupt as well. That slows things down considerably.

  2. The USA sponsored Nazis? The same guys who committed genocide on the European Jews 70 years ago? (Vincy Ganja and strong rum must be very powerful) Talk about spreading misinformation(Black arts). That statement about the USA sending their ‘Nazi friends” to overthrow the Ukrainian government truly takes the platinum-diamond-encrusted beaker for best propaganda ever. That opinion surely comes straight from the annals of the Russia Today News. You should have based your argument on a different premise.
    Another argument for the slow pace of things in SVG is the corruption encrusted politics going on in the nation as well as ignorance and stupidity of the local politicians.
    (Most Politicians in SCG probably work only two days a week(five hours on Mondays and two and a half hours on Fridays)and the rest of the week they are out living it up and having a good time at taxpayers expense while the country goes to hell on a downhill-moving cart with no brakes.)

    1. You seem to have never heard of Bandara the Maiden Group or th e Right Sektor. It is incredible how uninformed some people are! You have been watching US sponsored Wester Media too much. I suggest that you seek out an independent news source that is not sponsored by the US Government or the Military Industrial Complex or look up what former US CIA agents have been saying. Maybe you should see that Victoria Neuland admitted that the USA sponsored the overthrow with billions of dollars. You should stay away from that strong rum and turn on your brain before you try to discredit someone who knows far more than you do.

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