Inflation, Crime-Fighting, Fiona Restoration Spendings To Put Gov’t In The Red
Government is projecting a $16 million deficit at the end of financial year, having been forced to pump more funds into fighting inflation, crime, and restoring the country in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.
The unsettling news came through the Throne Speech on Monday, to mark the start of the new Parliamentary Year for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Throne Speech, delivered by the governor as is customary, talked of allocations for the country’s rampant serious crime problem, clean-up and rebuilding in the wake of Fiona’s passage and cushioning the effects of inflation on the populace.
“Inflation, hurricane damage and crime abatement have forced us to revise the financial targets for 2022/2023,” the government said. “With the additional demands, my government is forecasting a budget deficit of about $16 -million for this financial year.”
The government stated that it would continue to be nimble and make changes as global economic headwinds continue to impact the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“We are laying the foundation to simplify taxation and make it more equitable, promote entrepreneurship and wider participation in the economy. My government will continue to cushion the impact of inflation on our people through various relief programmes,” the government said.
The government also announced that it was completing work on a living wage for the lowest earners in the TCI.
“This is expected to take effect on April 1, 2023,” the government said, stating that in a bid to help deal with the increase in the cost of energy, the fuel charges on residential electricity bills have been capped at 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
“This will save consumers about 10 cents per kWh. This relief came into effect in September and will continue to December 2022,” the government said.
Thanking God for sparing the TCI from the real wrath of Fiona, the government said it has conceded that some public and private properties have suffered damage.
As a result, government has established a National Recovery and Resilience Committee (NRRC) to focus on recovery and restoration efforts.
To this end, $2 million has been allocated for general clean-up and repair of government properties. An additional $2 million is slated to be allocated to help homeowners affected by Fiona.
“A framework for the management of the relief effort will be established to ensure that only those most in need benefit,” the government pointed out.