PR – Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell is confident that Grenada’s 2022 Budget will bring significant relief to a wide cross section of the population.
In presenting the budgetary measures last Friday, Finance Minister, Honourable Gregory Bowen outlined key initiatives including the lowering of electricity costs for domestic usage of up to 500 kilowatt hours, through a reduction in non-fuel charges and the removal of VAT and the Environmental Levy; a $15 cap on the price of gasoline; VAT exemption for five additional food items; an increase of $150 for all households benefitting from the SEED programme; and additional pay for public officers during December, in recognition of the extra sacrifices made necessary by the pandemic.
Reacting to the budget on Wednesday, Dr. Mitchell said it was presented in a very unique context, characterised by the harsh economic reality brought about by the pandemic.
Dr. Mitchell said, “When presenting a budget, particularly in the context of a pandemic where everyone has suffered, there are some critical questions that must be deep in your thoughts. Where is the country? Where are my people? Who am I serving? What are my responsibilities? How will the budget affect them?”
The Parliamentary Representative for St. George North-West said the impact of the pandemic means that the marginalised and the poor must be given special attention and Government must honour its obligation to do so.
Dr. Mitchell noted that the budgetary measures reflect Government’s love for people. He said, “The Minister of Finance showed that he understood the pain of the people and he empathised with what is taking place in the country. As such, he came up with a number of solutions and ideas to deal with that pain. We cannot be all things to all people, but I don’t think there is anyone who can honestly say that the initiatives outlined by the Minister of Finance do not offer some form of relief to them. The greater good for the greater number Mr. Speaker.”
The Prime Minister indicated that a priority area for Government is empowerment, particularly for young people, arming them with the ability to take care of themselves. Here he referenced the many skills training initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth Development and the $10 million allocation to facilitate soft loans to the small business sector.
Dr. Mitchell said, “We don’t focus on giving a man a fish, we prefer to teach him to fish. The role of Government is to create an enabling environment for people to take risks, to capitalise on opportunities and to be able to provide for themselves. The true measure of our success could very well be determined by the amount of people who no longer need a helping hand because we have empowered them.”
He added, “The track record of this Government speaks for itself. We are a Government of the working class, the poor and the less fortunate. What motivates me is the ability to make a difference in the lives of people.”
In his contribution to the debate which lasted more than two hours, the Prime Minister also highlighted a number of other areas in which the Government continues to demonstrate that it has the best interests of the people at heart.