Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that his government is not awash with money notwithstanding his announcement to settle longstanding debt to businessman Marcus DeFreitas and to 32 Argyle property owners.
On the contrary, he warned that there is going to be “real pressure” on state resources for the rest of the year.
“I know persons must be saying, ‘Well, where is Ralph getting all this money from?’ because it is a lot of money. We have been careful. And all of these are funded, properly funded,” he said on NBC Radio on Wednesday.
The prime minister said that while his government has the resources at hand to deal with these matters, it has had to move funds around from different areas to deal with issues linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just want to make the point; I don’t want people to feel that government is awash with money. Far from it. It’s tight, tight, tight,” he said on his weekly appearance on state-owned radio.
He reiterated that for April, May, June, revenues were down by about 10% on average for those three months.
This came after an increase of 9.5% year-on-year in the first three months of the year.
“So by the time the first half-year is finished, we were more or less ‘even Steven’. April was even Steven we are down slightly compared to last year. May was a bad one. We were down 20%. June we are down 8%,” Gonsalves said.
He said that by next week he would have a reliable idea of how state revenue performed in July.
“…there’s gonna be real pressure on the resources between now and December and going forward. It requires real skilful handling. I tell you and lots of detailed work and hustling on the outside and making sure that you’re holding things tight on the inside,” Gonsalves said.
“And I must, I must say the Minister of Finance has been doing a good job. Camillo [Gonsalves] has been doing a good job; other ministers, but spending ministers, always — always a problem controlling spending ministers.”
He said that while “spending ministers” always want to spend, “you have to know where you have to hold tight and where you have to let go a little bit.
“So I think we have it in the balance alright,” Gonsalves said.