Premier and Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Joseph E. Farrell on Thursday presented an EC227.68 million dollar budget for the 2020/21 financial year.
While delivering his presentation, Premier Farrell noted that the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on local revenues of Government has been devastating. As a result the Government has requested further support from DFID to cover the estimated $21.99 million deficit in the budget.
The Government’s budget presentation was delivered under the theme ‘Building Montserrat’s Economy in a Digital Age’, as the Premier expressed that the Government’s intention is to navigate Montserrat through these challenging times; not only to economic recovery but economic transformation. He also committed to using information technology in all areas of the islands development.
Premier Farrell in his presentation in the meeting of the Legislative Assembly at the Montserrat Cultural Centre outlined the challenges and costs associated with COVID19, and announced the spending and revenue expectations for 2020-2021.
Overall the Government of Montserrat will spend EC$8.3 million responding to COVID-19, and Premier Farrell noted that growth in any sector is unlikely this year as a result of the global health emergency.
Nevertheless, the Premier affirmed his Government’s commitment to leading Montserrat through this difficult period, on to a pathway of success. He said, “It is my Government’s intention and resolve to navigate Montserrat through these turbulent economic and fiscal waters, with every tool and resource available to me, both public and private sectors, diaspora and the input of every member of this house.”
The Premier’s budget presentation highlighted the following:
Total Expenditure (including debt servicing) – EC$148.63 million.
Revenue estimate for 2020/21 is EC$126.65million.. The estimated revenue from local sources is EC$37 million compared to EC$58.17 million in 2019/20, a 36% fall in local revenue due to the impact of COVID-19.
Capital Budget for 2020/21 is EC$79,045,100.
The Premier and Minister of Finance further explained that the Capital budget will be funded with the UK Government/DFID providing EC$33.19 million, the European Union support amounting to EC$20.84 million, UKCIF through the CDB providing EC$23.90 million and the other EC$1.12 million by other funding donors and using local resources.
The Capital budget will fund projects such as:
Elements under the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG), to include Fibre Optic Cable, Airport Resurfacing, Improvements to the Montserrat Secondary School and will see the start of the construction of the New Hospital;
Developing Visitors Attraction and Amenities (the Volcano Interpretive Centre), Protecting and Enhancing the Natural Environment (enhancing hiking trails and beaches), Expanding and Diversity; and
The important and key economic development of the Port.