Covid-19 turns Budget plans ‘on their head’

Tuesday April 28, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
Finance Minister Mark Brown. Finance Minister Mark Brown. 18053140

Some government agencies will have to tighten their belts in order to pay for $76 million in Covid-19 economic stimulus and health responses.

 

Finance Minister Mark Brown is to announce more details this week. “This is not a time for austerity but a time for stimulus,” he said last night.

“Obviously what we had prepared for in terms of the national budget since December last year has been turned on its head by recent events.”

That meant funds would have to be “reprioritised” be moving spending between government departments, but always bearing in mind the need to deliver core and essential services.

Brown’s announcement come after calls from Private Sector Taskforce chairman Fletcher Melvin for restraint in public spending, to reflect the belt-tightening in tourism, retail and other private businesses.

Mark Brown said the government strategy was all about stimulus. “This means adding to the economy and filling the gaps left by tourism – you do not do this by reducing the public sector.”

He said phase 1 of the economic support package had provided breathing space; phase 2 would be more comprehensive and longer term. 

“We are working now on getting more accurate data to enable better responses and also looking at how this pandemic is changing the way the world does business and how we fit into the big picture,” Brown added.

“There will need to be staff flexibility with the use of secondments and re-deployments necessary. Ministry of Finance and Economic Management will be discussing funding adjustments directly with agencies.”

Brown said he would continue to lead consultations with key stakeholders to ensure government had the buy-in needed to carry the country through challenging times.

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