BRADES, Montserrat – Premier and minister of finance and economic management, Joseph E. Farrell presented an EC$227.68 million budget for the 2020/21 financial year, amid the devastating impact of COVID-19 on government revenues. As a result, the government has requested further support from The Department for International Development (DFID) United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid, to cover the estimated $21.99 million deficit.
The budget presentation was delivered under the theme ‘Building Montserrat’s Economy in a Digital Age’. The premier expressed governments intends to navigate Montserrat through these challenging times; not only to economic recovery but economic transformation. He also committed to using information technology in all areas of the islands development.
Premier Farrell presentation to the legislative assembly at the Montserrat Cultural Centre outlined the challenges and costs associated with COVID-19 and announced the expenditure and revenue expectations for 2020-2021. Overall the government of Montserrat will spend EC$8.3 million responding to COVID-19, notwithstanding, growth is unlikely this year as a result of the global health emergency.
“It is my government’s intention and resolve to navigate Montserrat through these turbulent economic and fiscal waters, with every tool and resource available to me, both public and private sectors, diaspora and the input of every member of this house,” premier Farrell said.
The premier’s budget presentation highlighted the following:
- Total expenditure (including debt servicing) – EC$148.63 million.
- Revenue estimate for 2020/21 is EC$126.65 million. The estimated revenue from local sources is EC$37 million compared to EC$58.17 million in 2019/20, a 36 percent fall in local revenue due to the impact of COVID-19.
- Capital budget for 2020/21 is EC$79,045,100.
The premier and minister of finance further explained that the capital budget will be funded with the UK Government/DFID providing EC$33.19 million, the European Union support amounting to EC$20.84 million, UKCIF through the CDB providing EC$23.90 million and the other EC$1.12 million by other funding donors and using local resources.
The capital budget will fund the following projects:
- Elements under the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) to include fibre optic cable, airport resurfacing, improvements to the Montserrat secondary school and the commencement of construction works at the new hospital;
- Developing visitors attraction and amenities (the volcano interpretive centre) protecting and enhancing the natural environment (enhancing hiking trails and beaches), expanding and diversity; and
- The important and key economic development of the Port.