Vasant Bharath

The Roadmap to Recovery Team’s recommendations can assist the 2021 Budget in carrying some of the weight of T&T’s expected problems, but Government must implement a team in the Prime Minister’s office to ensure implementation of the suggestions.

This is to ensure ministries don’t operate as usual and let recovery plans fall by the wayside.

That advice came yesterday from former People’s Partnership Minister Vasant Bharath who said Government’s 2021 Budget—being delivered on October 5—will be extremely difficult to write and will require input from all avenues which can assist.

Bharath was among those who contributed to the Roadmap Team’s contents.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday called for groups to make recommendations on initiatives for the Budget in the context of T&T’s restricted financial circumstances.

Bharath said Imbert will have to strike a balance between continued expenditure and getting new revenue streams.

“But a large part of expenditure are transfers and subsidies which will make it very difficult, where will you cut? Next challenge is to match revenue as we’re likely to end up with a large deficit.”

“It will become more and more difficult to finance this as debt continues to mount and it’ll become more expensive to find debt capital as debt to GDP rises. Unless we can find new forms of revenue in a short space of time, we’ll continue seeing massive deficits over the next three, four years.”

Bharath added, “The reality is the world will find itself in a recessionary position. Every government will struggle in the current circumstances to find a balanced budget as most are suffering revenue stream issues. T&T will have to find an advantage in this new trading world. While a deficit is expected, we also expect the minister will give us hope this won’t be deficit in perpetuity. Once you have this all the quality of life for people will fall affecting education, social services, infrastructure. So T&T needs real answers from Government.”

Bharath said Government didn’t have all the answers pre or post-COVID and the recommendations could help.

He added, “If the value of the Roadmap’s recommendations is to be obtained by the public, and it can help the Budget carry some of the burden, it must have an implementation team. The recommendations should be made public for the citizens to buy into it and measure its implementation rate.”

“T&T has lacked foreign and local direct investments but if people see things happening through recommendations, it can boost investor confidence. Money is available in the system, it’s confidence that isn’t. People have money they want to invest,” he said.

Bharath urged Government to note Jamaica’s upward movement and removal from IMF conditions.

“They’re now the regional leader, adjudged best performing stock market in the world and have had four years of surpluses. It’s not impossible for us to do what they did. In T&T it shouldn’t be just about distributing hampers but fixing the problems causing the need for the hampers. We have the answers, it’s just a question of implementation.”