Budget expected TO REflECT THE HARD TIMES WE FACE BECAUSE OF COVID-19
There should be no illusion. The Budget that will be announced today by Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to reflect the tough times we are facing because of COVID-19.
There will be a mixture of austerity measures and initiatives to stimulate other sectors of the economy other than tourism.
We cannot totally rely on tourism COVID-19 has shown and there is a need to diversify to keep our economy growing.
Agriculture is likely to get more attention as one of the industries putting its hands up. Among the others are manufacturing, exports and the knowledge economy.
Agriculture has stepped up since COVID-19 arrived on our shores to fill the vacuum created by the virtual collapse of the tourism industry.
The vulnerability of tourism to climate change weather events and health threats from viruses makes it imperative for us to develop other industries that could carry the baton from tourism in times like this.
In order to do this we must first invest more into research and innovation that will find new ways of doing business.
We know there is scope for expansion in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and even mineral mining.
It’s important that we tap into their potential and uncover their benefits.
Doling up money to help those in need is a temporary fix, but is not a lasting solution.
No Government can do it indefinitely because it’s unaffordable and would plunge the country into a serious debt crisis. We should not borrow money just for consumption.
If we need to, we can borrow money for infrastructure development’s and revenue generation. Initiatives that would get our people working are essential. It’s important that we empower the people to be participants not spectators in the economy. To be independent and self reliant - not dependent.
Our resilience as a nation is based on our capacity to handle any climate change events or health threats like COVID-19.
This is not an easy time for any Government. It is not a comforting thought to know that 115,000 workers here have either lost their jobs or are working reduced hours.
Government employees including civil servants, teachers and health and medical workers should be grateful that they still have their jobs and are not working reduced hours. Unlike many of their counterparts in the private sector.
But how long can the Government sustain it if Government revenue continues to drop because of the downturn in business,
Cutting the slack would be top priority and savings made would help to maintain our essential services.
All in all expect a prudent Budget.