Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the 45th Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) in St Kitts & Nevis that there are several challenges which affects Antigua & Barbuda, as well as the region, which should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
In his capacity as Governor for Antigua & Barbuda to the CDB, the prime minister told his colleagues the gaps between revenue and expenditure needs to be managed and closed..
On the matter of the gaps between revenue and expenditures, the nation’s leader said, “In Antigua & Barbuda, persistent underperformance of revenues and the high and structural nature of public expenditure continue to create intractable fiscal deficits. Being cognizant of the long-term implications of these imbalances, we will redouble efforts to place Antigua and Barbuda on a more sustainable fiscal path”.
He said the government has already identified a series of revenue enhancing and expenditure reducing interventions that will secure improved fiscal performance and underpin a bold strategy to reduce the debt stock.”
Speaking to the issue of growth inducing policies, the prime minister said this has been aided and assisted by a rebounding global economy which is expected to result in a narrowing of overall gaps; however the country’s fiscal fortunes remain under serious threat by high debt payments and the ever present possibility of natural disasters.
Browne said “With respect to debt, at the end of 2014 our debt to GDP inched higher to 98% of GDP. This has forced us to take a closer look at contingent liabilities and the threat which they pose to debt sustainability. In this regard, we will be focusing on the supervision and management of our state-owned enterprises, which account for a large portion of overall fiscal risk”, Browne said.
The PM also informed his colleges at the opening of the two-day meeting, he was concerned with the matter of correspondent banking relationships and the growing scrutiny which these relationships are attracting from OECD countries and OECD- backed agencies.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)