People’s Party of Dominica responds to National Budget

ppod

Dominica’s 2016 National Budget – Of Feathers and Pixie Dust

The 2016-2017 national  budget has finally been presented to the Commonwealth of Dominican Parliament for scrutiny, discussion and approval. Much to our dismay, after having reviewed that which the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Roosvelt Skeritt has proposed, we in the People’s Party of Dominica find ourselves in a quagmire. The 2016/17 budget of the Commonwealth of Dominica fails to address the meaningful purposes of a budget and leaves much to be desired.

While the reader gets an understanding as to the basic formulation and budgetary processes from which estimates have been derived, it falls short in following up on results from such formulation and procedural processes.

The purpose of a budget is to establish a framework as to how the entity, government or corporate, might perform given the implementation of certain strategies, the occurrence of events (planned or unplanned), and alterations to the budget procedure itself. It relies on decision-making tools, and addresses concerns like, whether or not it would be necessary and cost-effective to execute proposed courses of action; whether or not actual expended line items can be subject to further appropriation; and whether or not allocated revenue can be shifted from an over-performing to an under- performing sector.

While the 2016-2017 budget does offer brief time-series variance analysis, more could have been done in that area. For the more in-depth, data-craving audience, the lacklustre of econometric data renders the 2016-2017 budget simplistic and vague. Vague because for example, we still do not know the exact formula for calculating gross domestic product (GDP) and how GDP variances are dealt with, from an economic impact point of view. An appendix of statistical tables at the end could have been inserted, which allows for source data/reporting comparisons, and for further research.

The 2016-2017 budget suffers from clarity in terms of fiscal policy objectives and a succinct statement thereof. For example, it lacks pro-forma analysis on courses of fiscal action which may have to be undertaken in the event of contingencies. To explain further, it may be necessary to manipulate taxes in order to offset the negative consequences of unforeseen events or to adjust revenue-deficit producing programs.

The Prime Minister has made a clear statement on the position of new taxes. A statement to the effect that “there are no new planned taxes” may have been more sound, with allusions to worst-case economic scenarios where taxes may have to be raised and/or new taxes legislated. Another fiscal policy example would be the implementation of a government-run scheme to boost productivity and thus demand in a key economic area, where private investment alone would be inefficient. Such fiscal policy data would enhance the reality of the budget and would add credibility in terms of the fruition of a worst-case scenario.

The issue of standardization also needs to be addressed. The budget layouts vary almost significantly from year to year. While we appreciate the artistry and creativity of the cover page, the format of basic and essential reports and tables of analysis should not materially differ yearly. For example, while this year’s budget gives a figure for Total Public Debt for the fiscal year 2015/2016 of $1.1 billion, it also distinguishes between central government debt and guaranteed debt. Figures related to Guaranteed Debt were stipulated for fiscal year 2011/2012. However, such amounts for 2013/2014 were not highlighted or made mention of in the budgetary address which followed. In light of the preceding, an inconsistency exists in the areas reported upon year-on-year. The result is incoherence and difficulty for transparency
and accountability, to be assured via and through the budgetary process. Property taxation is another case in point; some budgets have stated amounts raised from property taxes, while others do not.

While we can all agree that the national debt is impeding the progress of Dominica (some $14,600 owed per citizen), two key contributors to GDP, agriculture and the Citizen-By-Investment (CBI) programme, are conspicuous because of the way they are managed. The agricultural sector is in dire need of funding and restructuring, and is virtually dead because of this government’s policies.

The CBI programme is suffering from a lack of transparent and accountable management, thereby subjecting it to much distrust and suspicion. The programme enjoys significant promotion in places far removed from Dominica, thus making scrutiny difficult. Though persons seem to by ‘investing’ in citizenship, a dearth of tangible evidence exists on the ground.

This year, some 8.10% of the capital budget is being allocated to agriculture. This, despite the fact that farmers suffered hundreds of million of dollars in losses to damage due to Erika, and despite the fact that farmers were already complaining pre- Erika, about feeder road conditions, crop disease, and a deteriorating market for overseas goods. This also, despite the fact that agriculture once moulded the Dominican economy into one of the most resilient in the Caribbean.

Furthermore, regardless that agriculture contributed to 11.50% (some $171 million) of GDP for fiscal year 2015/2016, only $25.4 million is being allocated towards it for the 2016/2017 budget year. The agricultural budget as a percentage of capital expenditures has declined some 40% from last year, flying in the face of still much needed assistance for local farmers. St. Vincent and the Grenadines allocated some
$1.3 million more than we did, even though agriculture contributed to 29% less of their economy than ours. Grenada allocated some $42.2 million, almost double, for an agricultural output per GDP about the same as ours. For fiscal 2016/2017, St.
Lucia plans to utilize over $87 million to satisfy agriculture-related capital expenditure programmes. We believe that the government should take agriculture much more seriously, in light of the fact that Dominica has some of the richest soil in the Caribbean, an inheritance that cannot go wasted.

We have already written about the enigmatic Citizen-By-Investment programme, arcane in the sense that the depth and whereabouts of record keeping from its inception is not known to the general public. Up to fiscal year 2011/2012, we have relied on government audited statements to give us a close to true understanding as to the actual amounts collected under the programme.

We have encountered ludicrous variances in CBI revenue reporting year-to-year, from 2009 to past fiscal year 2015/2016. This could either stem from an exceptionally wild unpredictable passport market, and/or an ignominious, callous method of accounting; the likes which would have made Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling blush. There is also a question as to why the Director of Audit’s Report has not been read to the Parliament for a few years now, despite the legal requirement for this presentation to be made annually. This audit reporting delay deprives the tax-paying Dominican of much needed updates on the true economic state-of-affairs. The Dominican public is entitled to a thorough report on the reviewing, verifiability, and accountability on the state of the CBI programme.

The inflows of the CBI programme for fiscal year 2015/2016 amounted to $279,800,000.00. According to budgetary statements, moneys from the programme are deposited and maintained from two banks, the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Based on this statement, we find ourselves in a curious position to want to know firstly, how long have these accounts been established and secondly, we request a complete breakdown of transactions from inception till current.

The Minister of Finance summarized the revenue and expenditure of the CBI scheme. However, we either missed something or the table is incomplete. Actual expenditure (project and operations) came to $99,047,300. This amount is being reported as transferred to the Consolidated Fund, as accounted for by prevailing constitutional law. Of the remainder, $180,752,700.00, fees and other miscellaneous expenses are reported to be deducted to the tune of $33,975,136.80.

Now unless we have completely skipped out on new financial laws passed in parliament, the final remaining amount, or some $146.7 million should also be subject to consolidated fund accounting. We cannot find an explanation for the handling of the final remaining amount. Is there another system of government accounting off limits or opaque to public scrutiny? We would like complete and exhausted details, as to why this amount of $146.7 million does not appear in the accounting figures related to the Consolidated Fund! This requires much further scrutiny!!

In conclusion, more could have been done to deliver a more qualitative aspect to this year’s budget. As a slight deviation from traditional budget-based accounting, elements of performance-based budgeting could have been introduced. In doing so mission statements, goals, and objectives would have to be introduced, explaining more comprehensively where money will be spent and why. Resources then could be allocated to achieve specific objectives based on program goals and desired results.

The national budget of the Commonwealth of Dominica does have some way to go before being taken seriously in the international community.

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33 Comments

  1. 100%Dominican
    August 10, 2016

    Clever Bunch. Everything I’ve read thus far from this new party has simply made sense and sounds like they are really for the people. I am thinking more and more they are genuine and have the competence we need here in Dominica. While we only have had two names mentioned so far, I believe this team is bigger and better than most would like to think. We indeed need change in Dominica, this party may very well be it. I am hopeful. Great analysis and brave move even entering into the political arena.

  2. Finally
    August 8, 2016

    Finally I feel there’s hope for an opposition that can compete. I welcome the new perspective and blood. You have my vote. Focus and keep up the good work. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  3. forreal
    August 8, 2016

    there logo looking like a spear of lucifer

  4. Silver fox
    August 6, 2016

    Who the hell are this people’s party no one told me about that lots, anyway good luck to all i surely did not see you guys coming.

    • Silver fox
      August 6, 2016

      Some one just advice me silver fox, them people are the same Salop so called Workers Party lots hiding behind the smoke screen but we will on their hills.

  5. Winston warrington
    August 6, 2016

    You have chosen to display your knowledge of economics in a most pedantic manner and allowed your political rhetoric to range over a small island budget with international zeal. The national budget is a compendium of estimates based on a perception of needs and expectations, itemized as forecasted by the various departments of state. This is a financial instrument in the main, modifiable through discussion and debate in the House. You claim to be a political party, yet fail to make distinction between economic planning and fiscal responsibility. Good Luck!

  6. cold hard truth
    August 6, 2016

    Utter rubbish and high wash

  7. mine
    August 6, 2016

    Stop hiding come and let the people know who yor are. As Obana said its not an easy job be head of a country.

  8. Tjebe fort
    August 6, 2016

    Honestly , I don’t know we should take this U.S. based Peoples Party serious since the logo they are using is the same as the Italian luxury car Maserati. May be that is another Skrit trick to divide the opposition? Seriously, don’t now what to make of it.

  9. Elephan
    August 5, 2016

    PPOD is a joke :lol: . That being said, their aim to discuss the budget is a step in the right direction. Maybe if they launched, their party could be seen as somewhat relevant. Honestly, everyone should realize that they and the DLP are two rotten peas in a pod.

  10. August 5, 2016

    Hmmm… All you did was criticize the government’s budget. I thought that as an alternative choice in governance you would have presented a recommended budget allocation (based on the information available to you), so that we could see your demonstration of good stewardship. My question to you is, what is your recommended/alternative/comparison budget?

  11. real possie
    August 5, 2016

    We are our own enemies. We keep saying we need a better opposition, near all the comments are worried as to who these people are rather than challenge the points being made. Am so sorry for us as a people.

  12. Favoured
    August 5, 2016

    I am in agreement with the analysis made. I find it to be very objective and realistic. It is not all that different from what the opposition argued in their rebutals.. The disturbing thing for me was the fact that the invited guest some of whom we know are aware of the stagnation in the economy and the fact that the budget does not address any innovative ways to grow the economy in a sustainable way these same people who know otherwise gives the Prime Minister a standing ovation at the end of his presentation. I said to myself what high class hypocrisy.

  13. Ball fini
    August 5, 2016

    If them labou party supporters stop making skerit lead them astray and had listened to the leader of the oppositions response to the budget like intelligent people maybe they would have realised that this response is basically the same thing the opposition leader said All you jumping and wave to de same music same song all you didn’t like when another DJ play it before See how foolish and blind hate can make us…

  14. Reasoning
    August 5, 2016

    :?: Do we need another political party,no :?: Whoever you are,it’s not a good idea to come fragment the and divide the political divide unless you all are taking away the support of the death lame pests. I think you all should join in the movement with the already established patriots in removing the illegal rogues posing as government with a prime mistake as the leadass!!!

  15. dust cart
    August 5, 2016

    This is like throwing a needle in a hot bowl of soup. We have Aliens in Dominica and some uwp ready to vote them in. First of all, their trial balance won’t balance, so where do they go from there.

  16. Sedonna
    August 5, 2016

    A joke that man? So they expect me to read that? lol. These people are jokers. They should rename themselves as the Circus Phantom Party.

  17. Truthteller
    August 5, 2016

    Nobody but skerrit for Dominica and Dominicans, that’s all we deserve

  18. Joe
    August 5, 2016

    Boss what are you on? This long long response of yours is pure ACADEMIC, you write as if the Public Funds are some sort of Private entity. Look carefully and you will observe each line Ministries are given an allocation for the year… Government deals with what is referred to as MERIT GOODS and i know you know that. So all your advise posted on here is BULL CRAP!!!!!

    I keep saying you because ‘The Peoples Party of Dominica’ is only one person and that is the one who writes all these crap on DNO!!!!!

  19. Shaka Zulu
    August 5, 2016

    Keep it up. Folks need to see better.

  20. Wholly Ghose
    August 5, 2016

    P-Pod, they are like peas in a pod, hiding from us.

  21. POD
    August 5, 2016

    http://www.p-pod.info/

    Seriously?? They are ready to lead? NO information

  22. stacy
    August 5, 2016

    great response we need more logical thinkers like this in parliament

  23. lol
    August 5, 2016

    Just another UWP Bunch of losers

  24. Anansi
    August 5, 2016

    But Workers have competition. I expected to hear from Freedom already

  25. Clarity
    August 5, 2016

    Great response to budget maybe Under Water Party should learn a thing or two. I am really liking these “Phantoms”. They have got my vote already!

    • jim
      August 5, 2016

      they got mines as well tired of these politicians that have no innovation

  26. Honest One
    August 5, 2016

    Good economic analysis. I welcome the breath of fresh air. We need your discuss

  27. Same old story
    August 5, 2016

    Just call yourselves UWP and finish with that!

  28. KID ON THE BLOCK
    August 5, 2016

    Who are the Hell are you ALL(People’s Party Of Dominica)? Stop hiding and make known yourselves to the Dominican public…Are you PHANTOMS? Dominica is not governed by remote control. Come out from your cocoons and show your faces.

    • August 5, 2016

      like you all never listen to the peoples voice throw the calypso songs . its every day the pilot not there so dominica on remote control . oh yes it is . look outside country seeking answers about you all chines

    • steve
      August 5, 2016

      :-D :-D lol true be brave and bold make you all self public

    • forreal
      August 5, 2016

      well they got a website full of white people… venezuella was first now dominica,,pa ki te yo pon domnique hor’d nou

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