Finance Minister Harold Lovell yesterday delivered on his commitment to release the official figures for the national debt after engaging in some verbal sparring with ALP Chairman Gaston Browne over the matter last week.
Lovell and Browne had both accused each other of deliberately misleading the public by presenting false figures on the national debt.
The finance minister said the UPP was responsible for increasing the national debt by just shy of 30 per cent since coming to office in 2004 while Browne initially put the figure at 64 per cent (although later changed it to 66 per cent).
The figures released by the debt management unit yesterday suggest the UPP increased the nation’s debt by 1 billion and 69 million up to 2010 or by 863 million up to the end of 2009. It leaves the total debt as of 2010 at $3.4 billion or $3.2 billion for the end of 2009.
That figure differs from the one Browne proposed of 1 billion 450 million, by almost 400 million.
The debt management’s figures would suggest the UPP in fact increased national debt by 36.9 per cent up to 2010 using Lovell’s 2004 total debt figure of $2.9 billion. That contrasts with a 39.6 per cent increase when using Browne’s 2004 total debt figure of $2.7 billion.
Deputy Financial Secretary Rasona Davis explained that the differences are explained by differing calculations in three areas; the IMF debt, the Petro Caribe delinquent supplier credit and the Neil Persaud – Sunshine Hub.
Davis explained that the calculations for the Stand-By-Arrangement with the IMF and the Policy Based Loan from Caribbean Development Bank only include the EC $90 million and EC $27 million disbursed respectively. It therefore does not calculate the full EC $325 million and EC $81 million that represent the full loans.
“For each time we receive a disbursement from the fund that is when we sign a promissory note and it is entered into the debt stock, so until we get the disbursement a promissory note is not yet signed and so it is not included in the debt stock as yet, but it is something we have signed on to,” Davis said.
“Even if you have the $325 million plus the full PBL what you will get is $1.2 billion up to 2010,” she added.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)