By Mike David
As each country in the world, including our beautiful paradise of St. Vincent and the Grenadines struggles to find a way — their way — out of the individually unique circumstances created by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, as an individual, as a people, as a country, as a species, we must find a way to work collectively, overcome and move forward.
While any country can rightfully claim to now be struggling financially as a result of this current global disaster, not every country’s struggle is primarily a result of this disaster.
The common cry of many Vincentians over the last month has become “Let’s leave the politics out of this”. To which I say NO. Each day, as we find it more and more difficult to get through this, it may well be thanks the same politics that got us to this point in the first place that is required to get us out.
While I may not be a student of politics, especially Vincentian politics, I am, however, a graduate in the proper administration of government. This is because I worked as a public servant for many years, preparing and managing budgets of various types and magnitudes.
For that reason I don’t argue politics, but rather discuss government, through policy and data, qualifying and quantify its failures or successes.
· iWitness News article April 8, 2020: ‘Rough waters ahead,’ Finance Minister warns
· iWitness News article February 4, 2020: Minister presents ‘largest budget ever tabled in Parliament’
Our “rough waters ahead” can be quantified and traced to a single value, $205,385,841. The value of expected Other Receipts under the budgeted 2020 Capital Receipts of our history-making budget.
Honourable Arnhim Eustace has pointed out year after year in various annual budget responses that the government has only ONCE been able to collect more than $20 million in any single year of Other Receipts, which came as a result of the sale of government lands.
He also pointed out that on average, only about $8 million is actually raised by the government in Other Receipts annually. The sole purpose of this $205,385,841 of projected magical government income is to balance yet another “largest budget ever tabled”, our true disaster in politics.
This is when the cries of Vincentians should have been to leave politics out of the solutions that help us prevent or be better suited to handle disasters, through actual funding for healthcare, security, and infrastructure development.
Now both the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have no choice but to try and find the best outcome through the politics in this disaster through the mechanism of government administration knows as parliamentary approval, our task is that much harder as we start this monumental effort a politically unnecessary $205,385,841 in the red, as we brace for the rough waters ahead. It’s too late to put politics aside, it’s time to put our BEST politics out front and collectively find a way through these challenging times.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].