Prime Minister and Minister for Finance for Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday announced a $1.8 Billion dollar budget to the House of Representatives.
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Browne said that for the 2023 fiscal year, there will be an increase in revenue collections and ensure more efficient management of expenditure.
The country’s leader said that the $1.8 billion dollar budget represents a 12.5 per cent increase over the approved figure for Budget 2022.
“The 2023 resource envelope is made up of $1.04 billion in Recurrent Expenditure, $161.2 million in Capital Expenditure, and $605.8 million in Amortization Payments. The Budget will be partly funded by Total Revenue and Grants amounting to $1.13 billion. This leaves a financing requirement of $676.7 million, which will be funded through securities issued on the Regional Government Securities Market (RGSM) and disbursements from Loans and Advances,” he stated.
He said that these amount to $351.6 million and $321.1 million, respectively.
An overall deficit of $70.9 million, or 1.3 per cent of GDP is projected for 2023 along with a primary surplus of $76.6 million or 1.4 per cent of GDP.
Prime Minister Browne made it clear that effective April 3rd, 2023, all concessions will be significantly reduced, and the discretionary waiver of duty on imports will be capped at 50 per cent.
The Prime Minister said that the projected fiscal outcomes for 2023 are an improvement over the estimated fiscal performance in 2022 and are aligned with the targets established in his government’s strategy for fiscal and debt sustainability.
The Ministry of Education, Sport and Creative Industries and the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Social Transformation and the Environment received the largest share of the $1.8 Billion dollar Budget:
Ministry of Education, Sport and Creative Industries, $185 million; and the
Ministry of Health, Wellness, Social Transformation and the Environment, $147 million.
The Ministry of Education will focus on the expansion of the UWI Five Islands Campus to include a US$5 million to build a new primary school in Five Islands. It is expected that construction work will begin by the second quarter of this year.
Other projects in education include major repairs on the Irene B Williams Secondary School and completing rehabilitation of the Boys Training School.
In health , the government is constructing a Dialysis and Renal Centre on the compound of the old Holberton Hospital.
Once operational, the Centre will help in the fight against non-communicable diseases and their impact on the social and economic wellbeing of nationals.
In addition, the new facility will enable the country to increase the number of kidney transplants and offer the services to residents in other OECS territories.