The 2010 National Budget Address is expected to be delivered on Wednesday; almost three months behind schedule. The annual budget is usually presented at the end of each year for the following year. However, the extensive delay in presenting the 2010 Budget was blamed on political court cases and a pending general election. On December 7th Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas informed the nation that although budgetary processes had been completed, he felt it was best to present the budget at the beginning of a new term in office. “I had hoped that the Budget would have committed resources to the implementation of the manifesto promises of the winning party. Unfortunately, although we have completed the budgetary processes including our annual national consultations, we feel that in view of the imminence of the pending general elections the budget should be presented at the beginning of a new term of office,” he said then. During a February 2010 press conference Douglas informed that the budget would be presented before the end of March but gave no specific date. The March 24 date was announced during Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian’s Throne Speech at the opening of parliament last Wednesday. PM Douglas had admitted that the global economic crisis would have adversely affected revenue receipts in 2009 but optimistically projected an increase in the primary surplus By the end of 2010. Presumably several concessions given and bonuses paid leading up to the January 25th general elections would be reflected in the this year’s budgetary allotments including the removal of fuel surcharge on electricity, laptops for secondary school students and a number of stimulus packages for certain business sectors. The annual Budget Address gives a recap of the national economic performance of the year in which it is presented and gives projections for the upcoming fiscal year. In December of 2009 then Minister of Finance Hon. Timothy Harris had anticipated a decrease in Foreign Direct Investment in all sectors of the economy due to the global recession. “If this happens for any protracted period, the impact of the global crisis on income, employment and business activity would be greatly exacerbated.” Economists are predicting increased inflation rates and an upward trajectory of the country’s debt ratio for 2010. PM Douglas re-assumed the Finance portfolio following his party’s victory at the polls in January and has implied that his administration will be looking at reducing government expenditure and enhancing revenue administration this year. Revenues earned from tax collection should see an increase following the introduction of value added tax later this year. It is estimated that VAT will be calculated between 15-20% on the majority of goods and services consumed and provided throughout the Federation.
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