Finance Minister Colm Imbert –
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert read the 2023/2024 budget in Parliament on Monday afternoon. Here are ten of the main takeaways from his four-hour-long presentation:
1. Total revenue $54.012 billion. Total expenditure $59.209 billion. Fiscal deficit $5.197 billion. The oil price is estimated at US$85 per barrel, and natural gas at US$5 per MMBtu.
2. Education and training get the largest chunk of the pie, with $8.022 billion. Some 2,400 laptops are to be distributed and a $1,000 book grant distributed to students in need. The health sector gets $7.409 billion, followed by National Security, with $6.912 billion.
3. The minimum wage has been increased by $3 to $20.50 per hour from $17.50 per hour. This will take effect on January 1, 2024.
4. $1 billion in back pay will go out by Christmas for 37,000 public-sector workers who accepted the four per cent wage increase offered by Government.
5. The Commissioner of Police will be ordered to triple the annual intake of new recruits from 300 to 1,000 for 2024. Police will also be given $80 million additional for new vehicles and equipment to increase their presence in communities.
6. The fuel subsidy may reach $1 billion in 2024. There will be no hike in prices.
7. Property tax will be collected in 2024.
8. The Government plans to tackle the foreign-exchange crunch.
9. The unemployment rate declined to 3.7 per cent between April and June 2023, from 4.9 per cent from January-March 2023.
10. No increase in existing taxes to citizens.