Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, right, seen here during the Budget Address. (iWN photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Sunday, responded to the allegation by Opposition Leader Godwin Friday that the government has repeatedly broken the Finance Administration Act and hidden it with another illegality.

On Feb. 4, as he began the Budget Debate, Friday said that while the Finance Administration Act allows the government an annual overdraft of EC$50 million at commercial banks, the government has routinely exceeded this limit.

He said that the overdraft must be settled by the end of that financial year but the government ended one year with EC$85.4 million to be repaid.

Friday further told lawmakers that the government further breaks the law by converting the amount over and above the EC$50 million to an “Accountant General Loan”, not approved by Parliament

Gonsalves was not present in Parliament when Friday made the assertion as the prime minister had taken two days off from the debate having been “under the weather”.

The prime minister, in the four hours allocated to him –all of which he used during the debate — did not respond to Friday and neither did Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves.

However, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas, a journalist and social commentator, wrote about Friday’s comments in his “Plain Talk” column last weekend.

Thomas said Friday’s revelation was the “biggest story of the 2020 budgetary debate”.

Speaking on WE FM on Sunday, the prime minister noted that Thomas had observed that neither he nor the finance minister had responded to Friday during the budget debate.

“Well, actually, I didn’t hear that Friday had said it. I might have taken, when I was home, I might have taken a break for members’ convenience at home and missed that part,” the prime minister said.

Opposition Leader Godwin Friday speaking during last week’s Budget Debate. (iWN photo)

He further said he suspects that the finance minister  “didn’t think the thing worthy of responding to because Friday was in error…

“On several counts, Fridays is wrong and Jomo took Friday’s word for it,” Gonsalves said.

The opposition leader had said that at the end of December 2009, the overdraft was EC$85.4 million; at the end of 2010, the figure was EC$77.8 million, EC$29.1 million at the end of; EC$45.1million at the end of 2012; EC$52.5 million at the end of 2013; EC$52.7 million at the end of 2014; EC$61.9 at the end of 2015; EC$57.5 million at the end of 2016; and EC$57.4 million at the end of 2017.

However, Gonsalves said that in 2014, the overdraft had a ceiling of EC$75 million.

“We reduce the overdraft number down to 35 and then carry it to 50; but it was 75.”

He said the second thing Friday said is that in addition to the resolution for the overdraft, which is moved after the approval of each year’s budget, “there’s also an act which is passed every year setting an outer limit as to how much you can raise by loans”.

Gonsalves said this figure for local loans is included in the Estimates.

“This year it’s 100 million dollars. We don’t have to go — if I go and borrow money from the bank in St. Vincent, once I stay … within 100 million dollars, I’m okay.

“I’m not talking the overdraft now, which is a separate issue.

“… So If I have 75 million as an overdraft and I am paying 14% on the overdraft, I say, ‘You know what happen, I’m going to transform that half of that overdraft into a loan. So I can pay 8%. I don’t have to come and get approval for that loan, so long as I stay within the framework of the 100 million or whatever for that year, I can borrow locally,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the opposition leader, “by not understanding the issue look as though he misled Jomo on it.

“There is this assumption that somehow Ralph could just drive a horse and chariot through the law. But if a bank is lending you money, the bank would want to know that you have the legislative cover for it,” the prime minister said.

He said that the issue of the Accountant General Loan “is as old as the hills.

“Son Mitchell did it, Arnhim did it,” Gonsalves said, referring to former prime ministers Sir James Mitchell and Arnhim Eustace.

“So long as you have the cover for it in the overall loan act, the public sector, the finance, the government, the public sector for the period, you’re okay,” the prime minister said.

He added:

“Now, this is not to say that occasionally and from time to time within a particular year, if your limit is $50 million for an overdraft, or, at a particular time, 75, that it may not go slightly over 75 for certain reasons.

“The bank will know well, some monies are coming in and they say, alright we know that money is coming in so we allow you to go over 3, 4, 5, $6 million because, you know within a day or two it’s covered.”

Gonsalves said Friday is wrong when he said that the overdraft must be zeroed at the end of the year. 

“If you retire the overdraft at the end of the year, you just renew it because the overdraft is fluctuating. You have 50 million; it might be 23 at the end of the year. You don’t retire it, you just roll it over with the new resolution,” he said.

9 replies on “PM responds to opposition’s illegality accusation”

  1. Where-oh-where is that “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL” can someone here in SVG find it for our enactment?

    Moreover if you have enjoyed Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” Mette Harrison has a modern new take on it and gives us the following.

    “A story is not always a lie,” said Tristan. “Some stories are truer than truth.” Truer than truth? That sounded like something liars made up to tell people who found them out.”

    Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison. The modern retelling of retelling of the German fairy tale “Tristan and Isolde”, Enjoy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-qoaioG2UA Richard Wagner – “Tristan und Isolde”, Prelude

    And now if you are a fan of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, then listen here to one of his exchange;

    “Lies–and again lies–it amazes me, the amount of lies we had told to us this morning.”
    “There are more still to discover,” said Poirot cheerfully.” ― Agatha Christie

  2. Master's Student says:

    Is this a prime minister or a rogue government? Making up his own figures as he tries to acquit himself

  3. It is a shame how this jackass, big belly Gonsalves, can be in power when the incompetent turd of a fool ‘s dog only keeping the country backward and underdeveloped. Big belly Gonsalves don’t know the first thing about economics, has put a his son, a novice, in charge of the country’s finances while he’s in charge of everything else. This is truly biblical. It resemble those African dictatorships where the the assistant bus-driver becomes the prime minister and doesn’t want to leave when he looses elections. and, who will do anything to stay in power even though he can’t help the suffering masses. GOD HELP US. They will soon steal the Grenadines. Blind greedy fools.
    Kenton I hope you publish this and then under the correct news articles, in the coming days hopefully.

  4. Our Prime Minister had reminded us that he sometimes tells lies and in my reading of this above report, I am rather inclined to be concerned as to what is said there by him. Are we seeing there, from the Prime Minister, an attempt at utter deception or are we seeing there just plain lies on his part? What indeed is the truth in all these things? Is he playing the Vincentian public?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPe5f5dcrGE

    In the circumstance, will there now be a parliamentary debate on this whole issue of Government borrowings and one that includes past Loans arrangements / overdrafts during the period in question and their ultimate legality there on?

    With a FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL in place here, an investigative journalist would no doubt be able to get to the real truth in all this. Sadly however the prime minister do not think that Vincentians deserves a FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL.

    I am particularly concerned that the Prime Minister have chosen to make his statement on a radio station, rather than to the Parliament where he was required to respond. This singular fact of a radio statement rather than a parliamentary reply gives me much cause for concern as to his truthfulness, keeping in mind the man’s previous statement that he sometimes tells lies.

  5. Mr PM you are a lier and a very stupid old man who should not be the head of this country . Your backward son is the finance minister not you.So you need to shut yo darm mouth.And look after yourself you look like a pig in jacket and Ti.

  6. Even if Ralph Gonsalves statement saying that other governments do similar, it does not mean he should do it and, of course do it to an even worse degree!. And suppose other governments have done it; they may have done it once and for an emergency, but the present ULP Government does it continually as a matter of practice,… AS WELL AS MANY OTHER “CREATIVE FINANCE” TRICKS that effectively are just taking THE PEOPLE’S (our) money and the money of our future and yet unborn generations!!!!…SHAMEFUL!

    Ralph Gonsalves is head of the Executive Branch. Who is to enforce the law when it is he himself that is violating it?
    Friday is right: For some “elites” the law is for others to follow, but not the elites and those “connected”. When they break the law they can always find an excuse explaining why they are allowed to do so.

    1. Miss, Ralph Gonsalves is the minister of just about anything you can think of in SVG. Effectively he is holding all the cards, worse he will continue to insult Vincentian to their face until kingdom come. Now, How come he doesn’t sue Dr. Friday? Dr. Friday is 200 x more capable, intelligent and better educated than Gonsalves, the opportunistic liar.

  7. Ralph is pulling a page out of TRUMP’s book: “Others have done it and so I can do it to”. I agree that the issue should be debated in parliament and not on a radio station. The documents should also be available to Vincentians since they are the ones who have to pay the bills. It can’t be a Ralph, Camillo, or Gonsalves thing. It has to be a Vincy thing and they should be aware of what’s happening.
    Don’t forget AIA was not supposed to cost Vincentians a cent, now it costing not one, not two, but millions. The only advantages are to Vincentians in the Diaspora flying home because they don’t want to depend on LIAT, B/dos and T&T travel arrangements.
    Travel this year will probably be down based on the virus. Even the yachting will suffer a bit because of the hurricane disaster in the Caribbean. This came to light at the Toronto Boat Show this year which didn’t have a large turnout.

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