Serious choices in the year ahead, finance minister warns
The finance minister yesterday insisted that price controls were unlikely to be introduced to combat inflation.
Curtis Dickinson said that the Covid pandemic would continue to hit the economy, but that he did not expect next year’s Budget to be a “harsh” one.
But he added that, because the island needed to bring in so much from overseas, it was “importing inflation”.
Mr Dickinson said: “I don’t see price controls coming forth. What I do see is that most of our goods are imported from Canada, the US, the UK, who are all experiencing inflation.
“And so, inasmuch as we continue to import from those countries because we do not have the natural resources to develop goods on our own, we will actually be importing inflation.”
Mr Dickinson added: “I wouldn’t say it’s going to be a harsh Budget. I haven’t finished developing it yet.
“But we are operating in an environment where the pandemic is continuing. We have seen it have a negative impact on our economy for the past two years. It would be unreasonable not to expect a similar impact going forward.
“Plus we have all the other challenges that we have to face with respect to refinancing debt – real fiscal challenges around balancing our budget.
“So we are going to be making some serious choices in the year ahead.”
Mr Dickinson earlier repeated much of the financial update he delivered in the House of Assembly last Friday, which can be found here.
He told the House of Assembly that estimated revenues for the year would be $8 million higher than predicted, but that expenditure would be $56.9 million higher than anticipated.
Mr Dickinson said he could not foresee another lockdown at this stage.
He highlighted that booster shots helped to reduce the impact of the Omicron variant and that people should consult their doctors if they had not been vaccinated or had still to get a booster shot.
Mr Dickinson told MPs that he was confident the Government could meet the budget deficit target of $124.7 million by cutting back on capital spending.
He added that $92.9 million had been allocated for capital expenditure but the finance ministry has proposed a $25-million reduction.
Mr Dickinson said today a pre-Budget report would be delivered next month, which would expand on how he would meet budget targets despite increased Covid-19 expenditure.
He added a decision not to leave vacant Government posts unfilled would not affect people’s everyday lives.