Dougie Running Scared? Kittitians’ pockets in the Balance! Postponement of the 2013 Budget Presentation
My Fellow citizens and residents: Over the past year, the Ministry of Finance has monitored prevailing economic conditions worldwide and worked within these parameters, in conjunction with other Ministries, to prepare our nation’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. We have identified those policies, priorities, and funding levels most capable of enhancing the general stability that our nation has been able to maintain; despite the socio-economic turbulence whirling all around us – and are confident that this is a Budget with which the people of this country will be pleased.
Indeed, I am able at this time to report that after several months of in-depth analysis and circumspection, the Ministry of Finance was able to prepare, for presentation to the nation, a Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 that is completely tax-free.
I stress and repeat - my Government’s proposed 2013 Budget will be completely tax-free. My Government is keenly aware that nations, large and small are under tremendous pressure to increase public revenues via the levying of additional taxes.
The Presentation of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget had long been scheduled for tomorrow, December 11, 2012. Indeed, this morning, Cabinet met in order to affirm and solidify our support, as a Cabinet, for this important Budget, the mechanism via which our hospitals are funded, our energy imports made possible, our old-age pensioners and social safety-net programs supported, and our civil servants and auxiliary workers paid. However, there are two members who never arrived at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. Nor did they attend at an earlier December 5, 2012 Cabinet meeting at which the Budget was also discussed.
The 2013 Budget is of utmost importance to the well-being of this nation.
So is the unanimous participation of all members of Cabinet in our pre-Budget sessions so as to ensure that this vital legislative initiative, on which so much and so many in our nation depend, does indeed become law.
Up to 7:30 p.m. this evening, the members have not arrived to Cabinet; as a consequence we have taken a decision to postpone the Budget Presentation originally scheduled for Tuesday December 11, 2012.
I wish to stress that all Cabinet members, save two, were present at today’s pre-Budget Cabinet meeting. And all who attended have made clear their complete support for the Government’s 2013 Budget. Please be advised that once all Cabinet members are able to meet as one body, without any absence, in order to clarify each Member’s position on our Government’s 2013 Budget, a new date will be announced for my Government’s Budget Presentation, without delay.
Fellow citizens and residents, the budget is one of the most critical components of the array of development tools that are employed by Governments all over the world to advance the welfare of the people they serve. Be assured that I am determined to protect our investment climate by ensuring that we do not go through a prolonged period of uncertainty in relation to the budget for 2013.
The Budget Address originally scheduled for Tuesday would have demonstrated clearly that the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis is well managed. It would have projected an early return to economic growth and it would have reported a reduction in debt to GDP to well under 100%, surpluses in all categories of the Fiscal Account, and the elucidation of a comprehensive development strategy that would dramatically enhance the capacity of our economy to achieve sustainable growth over the medium-term. It would also have created a multiplicity of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, and take us closer to the realization of a more advanced society replete with opportunities for our citizens and residents to achieve even their most ambitious goals through continued creativity and commitment.
Unfortunately, the world is not waiting on us, and the opportunities before us will not exist indefinitely. We must therefore move expeditiously to remove all uncertainties that could impede our progress, and thereby ensure that our society continues to act as a magnet for inflows of investment through our reputation for peace and stability.
Fellow citizens and residents be assured that in dealing with the critical matters before us, the overriding factor that will determine the response of my Government is our unswerving commitment to the motto of our Nation, “Country Above Self“.
May God continue to bless our beloved Federation of St Kitts and Nevis. I thank you.