BCSI Statement on the 2015-2016 Budgetary proposals delivered in Parliament on Monday June 15th

Prior to the Budget we indicated that we hoped there would be equal emphasis placed on fiscal consolidation and economic growth. We remain concerned that there is still not the kind of comprehensive outlook emerging in our national dialogue that we are hoping for.

BCSI Executive Director Lisa Cummins commented that “First, we appreciate that there are traditional measures for assessing macro economic policy along the lines of fiscal consolidation and so on. That is the well-defined model of some international organisations where we employ fiscal measures almost exclusively. But most developing agencies now have moved away from that and have developed models which take a far more macro picture of the economy. We continue to call for that broader approach. In a services driven economy, we are deeply disappointed that for yet another year, there has not been a single mention of the role of the services sector. This is a country that is without question services driven. So for every priority sector to thrive, the services sector must drive the inputs that create the conditions for competitive outputs. That applies equally to tourism as it does to the other foreign exchange earning sectors of the economy. An engine cannot drive unless you input gas. Equally so, no sector can run without services inputs. Yet each time we have these national level discussions we remain disappointed that there is not that level of policy coherence being brought to the fore.”

“This is something that we will definitely be pushing hard for in the weeks and months ahead. Countries that have succeeded in supporting growth have evolved into these value chain based models that create deeply integrated vertical and horizontal connections among their productive sectors in seamless symbiotic relationships. We still here at home are treating with our sectors as if they are stand-alone silos. That has to change to support the growth ambitions being articulated” Cummins said.

The BCSI head went on to say that “We at the same time welcome the reductions in fees paid by professionals in the respective schedules. This has been a difficult time for many professionals and any improvements in the enabling environment must be welcomed. We will be engaging our professional Associations on the introduction of the tax clearance certificates in order to qualify for registration on an annual basis. Obviously in cases where there are outstanding balances, we would want to ensure that there is an effective balance between the obligation of citizens to pay their way and the need to ensure that professionals can practice their craft and provide services to the public and their client base.”

There are clearly a number of issues that we would want to see elevated in the national consciousness and we are committed to working hard with the relevant agencies towards ensuring that we see some of the change and can continue to be a part of this private sector led growth process that is very necessary. Our starting point really clearly needs to be defining what comprises the private sector and how they are all interconnected so that they we start to have that broader dialogue we need and then out of that can come the requisite level of policy intervention required to take us forward.

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