Roseau – The Dominica government on Tuesday presented an EC$1.3 billion budget to Parliament outlining a range of new taxes and indicating that social programmes currently in place to support the vulnerable, will continue.
Finance Minister Dr Irving McIntyre, in his fist budget presentation to Parliament following last December’s general election, said that for the 2023-24 fiscal year, recurrent expenditure would total EC$639.6 million, while capital estimates had been pegged at EC$701.6 million.
“I must emphasise that, although the recurrent budget for this fiscal year has been reduced, all of government’s social programmes which are currently in place to support the vulnerable will continue, including the public assistance programme, the foster care programme, the care of our juveniles…our centenarian programme, the 65 and over non-contributory pension programme and …the yes we care programme.”
McIntyre said that the Roosevelt Skerrit government would also continue to support the non-government institutions which care for the most vulnerable, particularly, senior citizens, and begin implementing the recommendations made by the recently appointed National Advisory Board for Health and Social Care of the Elderly.
He told legislators that the expenditure estimates would be financed by tax and other sources of revenue, loans and grants together totaling EC$1.3 billion including recurrent revenue of EC$1.06 billion, capital revenue of EC5.5 million, grants amounting to EC$138.4 million and loans at EC$94.0 million”.
McIntyre said that while Dominica’s economy was recovering following a number of climatic and exogenous shocks, government’s fiscal standing had not yet recovered from the adverse impact of those shocks, particularly, the two-year COVID-19 pandemic, which occurred two and a half years after the passage of the Category 5 Hurricane Maria.
“Some of the scars from the shocks have remained. Our debt to GDP (gross domestic product), which was at 68.3 per cent in 2016 moved to an estimated 97.7 per cent at the end to 2022. Meanwhile, debt servicing moved from EC$67.5 million in fiscal year 2015/2016 to EC$116.6 million in fiscal year 2022/2023” (CMC)