Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas delivered the budget for the period 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2010, on 14th December 2010.
Brantley’s response to the budget was delivered the following day during which he indicated that while the federation and its inhabitants are choking on the financial burden under which they live, the government has failed in providing that sense of hope.
“…One would have to live in a gilded castle away from the real people who make up the population of St. Kitts and Nevis to say anything other than things are hard in St. Kitts and Nevis. The financial ship of State has firmly run aground. We are choking on a massive debt that has been the hallmark of this Labour now Labour/NRP Government. As this Labour/NRP Government stands today on top of the ashes of the financial and moral landscape of our once great country of St. Kitts and Nevis we have looked to this Budget and to our Government for a sense of hope. Alas, we have searched in vain. This Budget offers no prescription for the malady that afflicts us.”
The Opposition Leader, in answering the question of how the Federation got to the state that is currently in, explained that the years of ill-planning and irresponsibly on the part of the government were the main contributor.
“To listen to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance yesterday one would have thought that we suddenly woke up and found ourselves in this economic morass. The constant reference to the ‘great global economic recession’ would give the uninformed the perception that our economic troubles are all caused by the global recession. That…is categorically false. Let us put the domestic fiscal nightmare in its proper perspective. What the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has coined the ‘great global economic recession’ only beset us and the world in early 2008 and is therefore but 2 years old. But St. Kitts and Nevis has been in a deep fiscal hole for well over a decade!
“Let us look at what the Director of Audit tells us in his Report for the year ending December 31st, 2009. At page 5 he properly highlights in Labour’s colour RED the deficits racked up by this Government on recurrent account in each and every year of the last decade. In 2000, that figure was $56.4 million. In 2001, $55.18 million; 2002 $57.08 million; 2003 $51.06 million; 2004 $59.53 million; 2005 65.23 million; 2006 $33.54 million; 2007 55.49 million; 2008$12.77 million, 2009 $43.82 million for a grand total of deficits over the last decade Mr. Speaker of $490.16 million. Indeed, had the Director of Audit gone back for the full 15 years of this Labour Government he would not have found a single year when we saw a surplus on recurrent account. Surplus is a bad word to this Government.”
The Opposition members, according to Brantley, have long been vigorously waving red flags and prompting for urgent attention to be paid to fiscal restructuring, actions which he said were rebuffed.
“We were repeatedly told that the debt did not matter so long as we were able to pay it. But that ignored the fact that for every dollar diverted to the payment of the debt, we had less money available for the maintenance of our country. Less for security, less for tourism, less for healthcare, less for infrastructure, less for electricity, less for education, less for critical social safety nets. In truth the massive runaway debt and the cost of servicing it have crowded out other critical areas of national development.
“Years of telling our people that the debt did not matter and that members of the Opposition were being foolish have left us now in the clutches of the International Monetary Fund and having to dance to the fiscal restructuring tune of the international community. We are now having economic policy shaped not at home but in the corridors of power in Washington DC.”
Brantley said noted that his criticisms are meant as tools to be used in the crafting of national discourse and policy.