Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday picked up where he left off in his critique of the 2021 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, during his response to this year’s Budget Presentation, February 1.
Friday said in his response to the Minister Finance Camillo Gonsalves’ 2021 Budget presentation, that it was not one that had been crafted for the present times.
“This is a timid response to the pandemic,” Friday said.
He added that members of the public were presently at a heightened state of concern and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, …… (and) the threat of an explosive eruption of La Soufriere.
“We must be creative and diligent and show the people that you understand the problem and are working through them,” Friday said.
It was the view of the opposition, Friday said, that the 2021 Budget revealed a lack of alignment with most of the important problems and issues that were currently facing the country.
“In other words, the budget is not one for the times, it does not fit the circumstances that we are living under.”
According to Friday, there were several issues facing the country prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including low economic growth, poverty and chronic unemployment.
The situation was worse now with the coronavirus, Friday said, and the country was presently experiencing higher incidents of crime for example.
“We have as well as a persistent problem, the lack of opportunities and an environment for nurturing ideas for young people to become entrepreneurs,” the Leader of the Opposition said.
And while the situation has worsened, there was talk of what the government had done and not what its intention was, Friday contended.
“So, since the emergence of the COVID-19 these vulnerabilities in our economy have been exposed,” he said, “And all the government comes up with in the guise of solutions are short sighted initiatives, plasters for sores that need heavy bandaging, rather than having real solutions to treat our deep-rooted problems.
That would not have been something that the government would be able to do in one budget, Friday admitted, however, he insisted, that at least this one should have laid the foundation to deal with the potential structural problems in the future.
“There are no convincing or credible strategies for dealing with the problems, no thinking outside the box, no creative solutions especially now at a time when COVID has given us a chance to reset and think of ways to go forward,’ the Leader of the Opposition espoused.
The lack of incentives to the private sector so that it could maintain employment did not escape Friday. He cited that government preferred to give payments directly to individuals, so it is seen as a handout from government and in turn deepens the dependency syndrome between government and the people.
“Old time politics,” Dr. Friday said.