New Minister of Finanace, Mr Larry Howai is desperately searching for areas to reduce the budget deficit of more than $8billion. GATE and fuel subsidy appear to be on the chopping block. Granted that there are holes in the GATE, but the savings from restructuring GATE would not make a dent on reducing the deficit. The minister must remember that once you attempt to interfere with the education of the young people who are the leaders of tomorrow, you indirectly upset the main driving force behind sustainable development. We cannot afford to go back to dollar for dollar. Some people do not have the dollar to match. Money spent on education is not an expense but an investment. Mr Howai examine other areas of serious expendenture reduction. The allocation to State Boards needs to be reduced. In fact ,the 130 State Boards also need to be reduced to a manageable number. I was shocked to learn that the Estate Management Business Development Company Ltd [EMBD] received $1.2billion in the last budget. Where the money gone? What can EMBD show for all that money? Nothing! Where are the checks and balances? It is a feeding frenzy.
Mr Minister, cut out the fat in other areas, but leave our children’s education alone. Remember what the Father of the nation told our children that the future of this country was in their bookbags. Mr Minister, do not make it hard for parents to full those bags. Did agriculture benefit from the lavish spending of EMBD? People are always saying that the Government should diversify the economy towards agriculture. They want the Government to provide access roads and other amenities to make the farmers happy. The Government must be the facilitator not the main driver. Within the last five years the Government has spent billions of dollars on the farmers only to realise that it is not reflected in lower prices in the markets. People are still paying through their noses for tomatoes, melongene, pumpkin, cucumber and peppers.
Another budget reduction is the fuel subsidy. We may have to bite the bullet and reduce the fuel subsidy by $250m to $500m. The era of cheap gas at the pump has come to an end. Check what the USA is paying. We can pay a little more with the price of crude is close to $100 on international market. Finally, Mr Minister the private sector must play its part. Former Minster Winston Dookeran had asked business to invest $1billion in the economy.
Have they invested ? No! All we are hearing is that the economy is at a stand still. The Government needs to stimulate the economy. How? By giving business a bailout;by establishing big projects to benefit whom?
We are all in this together.After staging two international conferences, SOA and CHOGM, we have been left with a deficit that would take us years to wipe out. In fact, we seem to be getting deeper into debt. All hands on deck to reduce the deficit.