Building a Stronger Montserrat Together: A Vision and Roadmap for Prosperity was the theme of Premier Joseph’s Farrell budget statement for the Financial Year 2023-2024.
Farrell, who is also Minister of Finance called the budget “not only bold, but historic” and “demonstrates that this Government can not only deliver, but successfully make the case for greater UK commitment to support critical priorities.”
The premier said “Following years of global pandemic, high levels of uncertainty, public health interventions, and economic fragility, 2023 already feels like a ‘reset year’.”
Farrell formally announced the long-awaited three percent salary and pension increases for all public servants. He added that the government has “abolished the lowest levels of the salary scales for those who receive a gross salary of less than one thousand, seven hundred dollars ($1,700.00) per month.” This he added, will see some of the lower paid workers receiving a 26 percent increase in remuneration. This is a direct consequence of the adjusted scales and an additional three percent increase.
Salaries for teachers and nurses have been adjusted to align “them to scales which more adequately capture the value and responsibilities of the roles.”
“This will not only put more money directly in the hands of hard-working public servants, Madam Speaker, but it will stimulate spending in the private sector,” Farrell continued. “We recognize your sacrifice, your service, and we double down on our commitment to drive pride, investment and fairness in your professions.”
The finance minister said Montserrat is feeling the effects of a region which is being impacted by lack of air connectivity, labor shortage issues, supply chain disruptions and the potential for other external shocks.
Shortage of grains and the cost of animal feed skyrocketing have contributed to the increase in the import bill for the ECCU member countries and have inflated the overall cost of living and reduced households’ purchasing power.
“…the brunt of the crisis is being felt by the low-income families in the region and many are plunged below the poverty line. Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending poverty is therefore being impeded,” the premier noted.
Minister Farrell called on “households, governments, the private sector and civil societies within the region to collectively play their part in addressing some elements of hardship. Consume more locally grown produce; invest in backyard gardening; conserve electricity and switch to energy saving sources, consider renewable options and support the digital transformation process.”
…”Madam Speaker, governments will be expected to cushion the effect of inflation especially on the most vulnerable; accelerate the transition to renewable energy; continue to aid local food production through technology, innovation and farmer subsidization; and eliminate trade barriers which will reduce shipment costs.
“The private sector, must play an important role by providing support through investment in technology and in the blue and green economy. Civil Societies, can also contribute by engaging in dialogues, advocate, encourage and support the reforms.”
The 2023/24 budget has a projected revenue of $53,524,000.00. Budgetary aid has increased from $88,031,700.00 in 2022/23 to $97,024,000.00. An increase of $8,992,300. Total projected revenue for 2023/24 is $150,548,000.00.
Recurrent Expenditure is estimated at $150,548,000.00. Salaries will account for $48,331,900.00 in recurrent expenditure. Wages is estimated at $223,200.00. Allowances accounts for $8,350,000.00. Benefits at $13,861,500.00 and Services at $79,781,400.00.
Capital Expenditure is estimated at $95,308,200.00 with a total budget of $245,856,200.00.
The Budget Debates will begin on Thursday, April 20 and continue on Friday, April 21.
Read the full Budget Speech here.