Anguilla Govt. announces approval of 2018 budget

Cardigan Connor, Curtis Richardson, Victor Banks, Niel Rogers and Evalie Bradley at the Press Conference.

ANGUILLA–Chief Minister Victor Banks on Thursday, April 26, said, “I have some important and exciting news to announce given the uncertainties, apprehensions and frustrations experienced by the Anguillian community over the past few months concerning the approval of the 2018 budget.”

He reported that on April 25, Minister of State for the Overseas Territories Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon informed him by letter that the Government’s 2018 budget, which was read in the House of Assembly on Monday, April 23, was approved. Accompanying the approval were five budget-related processes going forward which Lord Ahmad requested Government agree to and adopt.

The budget approval process entailed months of written communication, dialogue and negotiation between the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Financial Office and the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance held the position that the negative impact of Hurricane Irma on the island’s revenue generating capability, especially with the loss of jobs related to the battered tourism sector in the latter months of 2017 into 2018, made new or increased taxes in the near term a non-starter.

Lord Ahmad, in his budget approval letter said “I appreciate the fact that 2018 should be considered a bridge year in terms of the restoration of the GoA’s [Government of Anguilla’s – Ed.] finances and that no new revenue-raising measures would be introduced in 2018. In turn, I anticipate the GoA will ensure it maximises revenue collection. I would appreciate if any further tax or duty concessions or exemptions are introduced that they first have the economic case presented and appraised by ExCo [Executive Council – Ed.], including the Governor, before any policy is approved.”

Lord Ahmad also confirmed that the Inter Ministerial Group agreed to release funding for six critical recovery projects from the 60 million pounds sterling of post-Irma humanitarian funding given to Anguilla by Prime Minister Theresa May in November 2017. He wrote “I would like us to work through details of the next phase of reconstruction projects in parallel with finalising GoA’s Medium Term Economic and Fiscal Plan (MTEFP) by June 30, so that I may seek approval to release the remainder of the funds.”

Banks responded to Lord Ahmad’s letter immediately, thanking him for his positive response to the 2018 budget. “It is critical to restoring an atmosphere of hope and confidence to our people. We have used our best efforts to produce a budget that is realistic given the circumstances of our economy at this time,” he wrote. Banks expressed thanks from his Government as well as the people of Anguilla for approval of the budget and the first phase release of the capital grant funding for projects, and the clear expressions of readiness to expedite, in parallel with delivery of an agreed MTEFP, the next phase of project approvals by June 30.

“I thank you also for the indication that you will approve the additional CDB [Caribbean Development Bank – Ed.] borrowing to effect the reduction of debt payments and to facilitate other debt management strategies. This is critical to our ability to build the bridge to financial restoration and the reinvigoration of our economy in 2019 and 2020,” Banks wrote.

Source: The Daily Herald