Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler yesterday hinted at a date for his much anticipated National Budget presentation, while promising a lower than expected deficit.
He was speaking in the House of Assembly during debate on the Savings Bonds (Validation) Bill, 2016, which was eventually approved with the support of the Opposition.
In closing off debate on the measure, Sinckler noted that even though the financial year ended on March 31, 2016, returns from the Treasury were still coming in and that the Barbados Revenue Authority was still keying in tax information.
However, he said based on the information he had already seen the deficit was going to be lower than the 7.4 per cent, which the Central Bank had projected for fiscal year 2015/2016.
“If I delivered the Budget two months from now, that information is going to be more complete, in terms of the returns,” Sinckler told the House as he delivered his broadest hint of when this annual financial presentation would be made.
“You cannot say that the deficit is not going down,” he added.
Sinckler also responded to Opposition complaints that the first quarter report, released on May 10, came late.
“This year it was delayed, not because of any malfeasance of the Central Bank, but because the section of staff of the Central Bank that deals with the report, including the head person who delivers the report, the Governor, had a number of engagements and therefore the report was delayed by a few weeks,” Sinckler said.
However, stating that delayed quarterly reports “is not unheard of”, he said: “There are countries who do not have legislated timeframes for delivery of reports, and sometimes they don’t always hit it on the week, or in the exact month in which the report is to be done”.