As government prepares to present the 2014/2015 Budget in the House of Assembly on April 29, Opposition Leader Dr. Gale Rigobert said she hopes the administration have included strategies to tackle the high fiscal deficit and unemployment.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday at her office, Dr. Rigobert hopes to raise her party’s concern about the fiscal situation and the debt to Gross Domestic Product GDP ratio, which stands at approximately 89 per cent. She believes a consorted policy intervention is needed to correct the fiscal deficit.
According to her, anything close to 60 per cent is worrying. The current economic situation therefore needs to be reversed, she added.
She said the trend of rising unemployment at 25 per cent and youth unemployment at 43 per cent is unhealthy.
“I am hoping to see some policy intervention that seeks to incentify growth and those of potential investors… to ensure that (hotels) are given the requisite institutional and regulatory support to attract investment and to bolster that particular sector,” she said.
The opposition leader stressed that a concerted effort to revisit the current incentives for the local private sector and potential investors is also required.
In responding to government’s defense that other Caribbean states have far higher fiscal deficits, Dr. Rigobert said the administration must be careful in comparing themselves to other countries.
“Whether you want to apply a statistical caution of a plus or minus five per cent, the point is it is an unhealthy economic situation, it is an unhealthy fiscal situation to be in,” she added.
Government, she said, must realise that it cannot borrow its way out of the current fiscal deficit nor can it tax its way out of the current fiscal situation. She said if the private sector continues to be taxed heavily it is going to restrict disposable income and consumption, which will lead to further contraction of the local economy. This is something the UWP has raised repeatedly at its recent press briefings.
The opposition leader said she hopes that some consideration will also be given to the plight of farmers in Micoud North.
“The Christmas Eve trough further deteriorated the agricultural feeder roads… and I really hope that the minister responsible for agriculture and finance will finally take heed to the cries of the farmers in that village,” she stated.