Budget 2020- Prime Minister Skerrit goes to parliament to deliver budget address
Budget 2020- Prime Minister Skerrit goes to parliament to deliver budget address

"And how I cannot wait for this international airport to begin," said Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Tuesday morning as he presented the Government's Budget for 2020 to 2021 fiscal year.

That statement by PM Skerrit received the loudest and longest applause from Government backbenchers. He added that geochemical studies for the much-talked-about airport will begin in September and that the Chinese government has given its commitment to construct the airport, one of the Dominica Labour Party's major election-2019 promises.

In his 113-minute budget address, Skerrit said the Dominica economy has been decimated by natural disasters and by theCOVID-19pandemic.

"But this Government is not daunted," he said. "All regions are projected to show negative growth in 2020… This prime minister will keep pressing forward. Dominica will survive, this government will succeed."

In keeping with this rosy-outlook, the theme for 2020-2021 budget presentation is: "The road to a dynamic Dominica: Fostering Economic Resilience". External debt, Skerrit said, is $683 million and domestic debt is $550 million.

"We continue to make debt payment in time and on time," Skerrit said.

In the budget presentation, Skerrit also highlighted government's expectations from the digital economy.

"Technology drives everything," he said adding the formation of a ministry for that particular sector was a tremendous "show of confidence in the youth of Dominica".

Skerrit also announced a number of concessions and initiatives: to the manufacture sector (waiving VAT on packaging materials and equipment); duty free concessions on purchase of vehicles to tour and taxi operators; the construction of roads in the East, South ad some enhancement programmes in Roseau Central; the introduction of property taxes to reduce the number of derelict buildings in Roseau; a 48% reduction in taxes and fees for land purchases; decriminalization of marijuana legislation and a tax amnesty for a limited period.

What Skerrit took before parliament on Tuesday is a budget of EC $942, 179, 940. This is $77.9 million less from the billion dollar budget of 2019/2020 budget.

In the previous budget, EC$538,387,527 was recurrent and EC$481,786,018 capital.

In this budget the recurrent amount is $514,931,535 and capital is $427, 248,405.

Undoubtedly, the Dominican economy will struggle in the coming months as COVID-19 takes its toll on the global economy. Hence, Skerrit's call for faith in his government.

"People must have faith," he said. "This prime minister will not tire; this country will not falter; the people of Dominica will not fail".