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ON THE RIGHT: Fiscal deficit our main focus

Chris Sinckler

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The Government is seeking to address the issue of our fiscal deficit in a more concerted and conscientious manner  to ensure that we keep our economy stable, and ensure that those gains which we want to have for our economic growth programme are not undermined by continuing fiscal slippage.
We do have difficulties in terms of our fiscal performance; that is the one that we are particularly very concerned about. Of course the issue of economic growth is one that will occupy any government’s attention full time but economic growth factors in terms of the performance of your major foreign exchange earning sectors . . . can be seriously undermined if the financial and fiscal stability of the country is not maintained.
It is not the only preoccupation of the government, in fact we are indeed pushing ahead with our growth programme, which we expect to begin rolling out in relation to the cruise terminal project which we should break ground on in a couple of weeks time.
The road programme which will start in January we have identified financing for that. We know of course internally with the Exmouth [housing] project we have cleared the situation with that and are ready to go. The Pierhead Project, the financing has in fact now been agreed and as soon as the town planner shoots out the plans, that is ready to go ahead as well.
So we know that within the next five to six weeks we are going to see activity happening, even behind the context of a seemingly reasonable winter season coming up we are seeing the figures coming in terms of arrivals, we are seeing the figures in terms of bookings and we are cautiously optimistic that that will pan its way out for the entire season.
So together with all of these things we feel reasonably confident that in terms of our growth programme that we will begin to see this kicking in seriously.
The issue which we are centrally and critically focused on right now is the whole issue of our fiscal deficit and getting that deficit down. The confirmed figures  that we have up to August 31, 2013 shows that there continues to be a worry about this performance fiscally.
Of course the Budget measures have not fully kicked in yet, quite a few of those measures are of course for next year.
On the expenditure side is where we do have some concerns in relation to achieving our targets and we have looked at what ministries have been able to give us, where the cuts have been, and our anticipation is that we will be about $25 million short over the 18-month period from what we had projected if we allow the situation to remain as it is and of course we are not going to allow the situation to remain as it is because we have to meet our targets.
The minister was speaking in the House of Assembly last Tuesday during debate on the new Consolidation Tax.