By Lincoln Depradine
ST GEORGE’S – Government ministers in Grenada will take a 5 percent cut in pay starting next month, Finance Minister Nazim Burke has announced.
He made the announcement Friday while presenting the country’s $378.9 million USD 2012 national budget.
That represents a 15.8 percent increase over last year’s budget.
The 5 percent pay cut just over $111 per month.
Burke, in his two-hour-and-25 minute presentation, unveiled a series of “expenditure reduction measures.’’
They include the pay scale-back, and savings of $296,296 by reducing by 50 percent the allocation for international travel by government ministers and officials.
“In a period of stagnant revenues and rising costs, government – like any household or business – must do its utmost to cut costs,’’ Burke said.
The largest budget expenditure, $55.5 million, will be for debt repayment, including monies owed to the Exim Bank of Taiwan.
Burke said the economic downturn that peaked in 2008 has ended, but warned that Grenada is still facing an “economic storm.’’
A United Nations report projected 2.5 percent growth for the Grenadian economy in 2012.
Burke said data from the National Insurance Scheme suggests that “jobs have been preserved and increased.’’
Government is still deeply concerned about the high level of unemployment in the country,’’ whose population is now estimated at 103,000, Burke said.
No new taxes were announced in the budget and Burke promised that no efforts will be spared in implementing job-creation initiatives, such as the Agriculture Feeder Road Project.
As well, progress is being made in sourcing funding for a five-star resort in the south of the island, Burke told the packed parliament building.
“Grenada is rising again,’’ he said.