The Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday began debating the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure contained in the EC$1.2 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) national budget, which includes a two per cent salary increase for public sector workers and several new job opportunities.
Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves said that fiscal package represents an increase of 11.2 per cent over the EC$1.067 billion approved last year.
According to the official figures, the recurrent expenditure inclusive of amortisation and sinking fund contributions amounts to EC$875.5 million, while capital expenditure is pegged at EC$310.7 million.
“The improved revenue performance in 2020 is reflective of predicted real economic growth projected for the year.”— Gonsalves
Gonsalves said that the budget will be financed by current revenue of EC$680.03 million and capital receipts of EC$505.3 million.
Gonsalves said that as a consequence, there is a modest current account surplus of EC$2 million.
“The improved revenue performance in 2020 is reflective of predicted real economic growth projected for the year and stronger and more efficient efforts by the main revenue agencies to collect taxes that are due and payable,” Gonsalves said.
The Finance Minister said that revenue from non-tax sources is expected to contribute EC$585.5 million to the government coffers while non-tax revenue is expected to bring in a further EC$94.4 million. Tax revenue is expected to grow by three per cent.
The Finance Minister said the 2020 budget for wages and salaries estimated at EC$269.7 million is 3.6 per cent higher than the approved amount for 2019, with this year’s two per cent salary increase for government workers as the main contributor to the higher amount.
This year, the government’s allocation for the payment of pensions and government’s counterpart contribution to the NIS for civil servants is EC$72.6 million and Gonsalves said retirement benefits continue to be the single fastest-growing item of recurrent expenditure.