I COULD not sit on the fence any longer after I heard the budget presentation of Minister Howai and the response by the Opposition Leader Keith Rowley.
Dr Rowley’s figures of budgets from 2008-2010 do not add up. Three factors impacted on the PNM not having a balanced budget for that period: the massive cost overruns of the Water Front Project, the billion-dollar staging of the Summit of Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
In 2008-2009 the projected deficit was $8.455.5 billion. In 2009-2010 budget, the deficit was budgeted at $7702.6 billion or 5.3 per cent of the GDP.
Minister Howai, on the other hand, has removed the fuel subsidy from Caribbean Airlines (CAL). I do not share in this euphoric announcement. CAL could not have made a profit even with the fuel subsidy. Can it do it now without one?
My other disagreement with the budget is the allocation to agriculture. This year it is $1.3 billion. Every year we hear the Minister of Food Production saying that we must reduce the $4 billion food import bill.
How can we reduce the bill when we are not producing the food that people eat each day? We consume corn, soy products, dairy, meat, peas and beans in large amounts. Do our farmers produce those products in a large quantity to feed the nation? No! Then why should we increase the allocation to agriculture?