PR – Newly appointed Minister for Finance Hon. Gregory Bowen, in presenting the 2021 Budget before a socially distanced audience at the Parliament building on Wednesday, said, that the scope and magnitude of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, will requre bold and decisive leadership.
Minister Bowen said Grenada has experienced its worst economic downturn on record.
He intimated that the road ahead will be extremely difficult as we reshape and renew our economy and society in this new and uncertain environment. At the same time, he expressed confidence that the kind of leadership demonstrated previously by this Administration, in rebuilding the economy after Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, and the global financial crisis, will enable us to eventually rise from the ashes of this pandemic.
Grenada has recorded forty-one cases of COVID-19 to date. Minister Bowen said, as a nation and a people, we have again demonstrated incredible resilience in the face of adversity.
Minister Bowen highlighted the importance of remaining steadfast in our efforts to protect our people and rebuild our economy. He said while we are proud of our response to the pandemic, much work lies ahead.
Consistent with the imperatives for recovery, transformation, and resilience, the 2021 Estimate of Expenditure provides for a total expenditure (including amortization) of one billion, two hundred and thirty-two million, six hundred and seventy thousand, and forty-nine dollars ($1,232,670,049).
The Government will strategically prioritise the Public Sector Investment Programme and strengthen systems and capacity to increase the implementation rate of projects and programmes that are deemed to best support resilience, inclusive growth and job creation as fundamental elements of economic recovery and sustainable development.
Amidst the fact that the pandemic has triggered an unparalleled decline in our economy and compounded our major developmental challenges, the policies, plans, and programmes announced in the budget speech will help us recover in a robust
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and inclusive way, support our social and economic transformation, and further build resilience, Mr. Bowen said.
The private sector is expected to play a major role in the provision of jobs and resuscitation of the tourism sector, livestock and agroprocessing. The Finance Minister stated that overcoming our current challenges, therefore, requires an extraordinary response. He noted too that with a roll out of one of the country’s largest capital budgets ever, which will generate thousands of employment opportunities for Grenadians, the private sector is energised and will also add thousands of new jobs.
Minister Bowen said Grenada’s solid fiscal position weakened considerably in the first half of 2020 as revenues declined sharply and expenditure needs grew to cushion the economic blow, dealt by COVID-19, with the combined effect exerting a serious strain on Government’s finances. By year end, current revenues are expected to reach EC$654.2 million, compared to a target of EC$786.2 million, a shortfall of EC$132 million. When taken together with current revenues and grants underperformed by EC$236 million as a direct consequence of the pandemic.
However, the Finance Minister stated that positive economic growth is projected to return in 2021. He said, “significant efforts will be made to contain recurrent discretionary spending to allow for greater recovery spending on the capital side.”