Member of Parliament for St. Phillip South Sherfield Bowen has highlighted the woeful inadequacies in the Government’s revenue projections for 2023.
In his presentation during Monday’s Budget Debate, Bowen pointed out that the revenue forecast for this year is over $114 million short of the $972 million expenditure that the Browne Administration is hoping to get approved.
Bowen added that the Government’s prediction of $130 million in revenue from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is also unlikely to materialise this year.
Given the scrutiny that the CIP will be under – in light of the Antigua Airways debacle and the watchful eye the European Union has been keeping on the initiative – the St. Phillip South MP projected that the actual revenue collected will be more than $40 million less than the sum the Administration has forecast.
Having looked at these revenue-collection factors, Bowen, a certified accountant, said the overall budget deficit is likely to be a lot higher than the $700 million the Government is claiming.
Other pundits have agreed with Bowen, saying the Browne Administration and, by extension, the people of Antigua and Barbuda, are in a deeper financial hole than is being acknowledged.
One critic has told REAL News that last year’s economic growth rate, touted as 8.5% by Finance Minister Gaston Browne, was “just happy talk,” since the rate of inflation, said to be above 9%, outstripped that figure and is continuing to rise.