After a period spanning five days, from the presentation of the Budget Address 2019 by Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to the rebuttal by Leader of Opposition, The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, and debates by parliamentarians, The Appropriation (2019) Bill, 2018, with total estimates for 2019 of EC$ 772, 881,833 for recurrent expenditure, capital expenditure and net lending, was passed into law on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
With a total recurrent expenditure of EC$ 526, 764, 731, a total capital expenditure of EC$ 150, 229,342, and net lending of EC$ 1,000,000, the Bill made provisions for the Governor General; Parliament; Audit Office; Ministry of Justice, Legal Affairs and Communications; Office of the Prime Minister; Ministry of National Security; Ministry of International Trade, Industry and Commerce; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services; Ministry of Agriculture, Human Settlement, Cooperatives and Environment; Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture; Ministry of Sustainable Development; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation; Office of the Attorney General; and the Ministry of Nevis Affairs, Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs.
In his Budget address dubbed “Sustaining Growth and Prosperity”, Prime Minister Harris said that the theme “is rooted in my Government’s determination to deliver on the mandates given by the people” and that “the impact of the various policy initiatives, programmes and projects of this Administration has been far-reaching and is being felt throughout our communities.”
Some of these include the building of a second cruise pier at Port Zante, Basseterre, to accommodate larger cruise ships in an expanding tourism industry; the rehabilitation of the island’s main carriageway; the Team Unity Housing Solutions; establishment of an Oncology Unit at JNF Hospital; Construction of a new Mental Health Day Treatment Centre; the establishment of a second-high court chamber at the Sir Lee L. Moore Judicial Complex; and a soon to be built brand-new state of the art Basseterre High School.
Some of the policy initiatives with respect to good governance of the Government include the passing into law of Integrity in Public Life legislation and the establishment of Integrity Commission, the tabling of Freedom of Information and Tenure of the Office of Prime Minister Bills to be debated.
The Government is also looking out for the poorest and most vulnerable among the population with its soon to be launched EC $500 poverty alleviation programme to households making less than EC $3000 per month.
“We have delivered solutions in many areas to improve the lives of the people. We have delivered solutions in education, healthcare, water, sanitation, roads, housing, and other public infrastructure. No investment in our people is too great,” said Prime Minister Harris. “Accordingly, we will continue to invest in these areas in order to achieve our goal of sustainable and inclusive people development and our vision of shared prosperity for all citizens and residents of our beloved country.”