Lister praises Richards’ plans
Independent MP Terry Lister declared himself pleased with the new Government’s inaugural budget.
“It shows us in far more detail where we stand with regard to our debt position,” he told
The Royal Gazette.
“The Minister has put forward a projection line that showed where we will be in five years time if we continue the way things were and where we will likely be if his base plan works.”
He noted that there were very few significant tax changes but that the two new tax measures proposed by the Minister will stimulate the economy.
“On the other hand, once the ship is moving, it’s hard to stop it. And so we see a $300 million increase on the debt. That is huge, it’s absolutely huge and its something that simply indicates how bad the situation has gotten.”
He added: “I give the Minister my support and encouragement in trying to sort this matter out, but as he’s shown in the Budget Statement this year it will not be done overnight. He’s got a five-year wish to see things much better and I think this is a more realistic approach.”
He said he was not surprised at the level of new borrowing.
“Bear in mind, if your current account is negative there is absolutely no money available to do the debt service, so that kicked out $130 million right there.
“The current account of the past few years had reached $200 million negative, so right away that’s $300 million. As frightening as that is, it’s pretty straightforward when you just think about it carefully.”
He applauded the Minister’s approach to the debt ceiling but said he may not have gone as high as $2.5 billion.
“I think I would have tried to be a little more conservative and gone to $2 billion. If I’m sitting at $1.4 billion right now, $2 billion is $600 million away. I’m projecting $300 million this year and I’m going to hope like heck that I can get under that $300 million next year.
“On the other hand what he’s done is say ‘maybe things won’t go as well as I hope’.”
He said: “He’s budgeted based on what’s expected not on the hopeful. Again, a wise position. It would be foolish to come here with projections and, as he’s speaking he would be holding his fingers in a twist — hoping this is going to come to pass. That doesn’t make sense.”
But he added that he was hoping key social programmes were not cut. “Some of the social side programmes need to be restored. Some of them were cut in the last few years and we need to put some more dollars back not take them away.”
Mr Lister quit the Progressive Labour Party last week saying he no longer felt welcomed by it.