The third session of the tenth Parliament of the House of Assembly convened on Monday 5th February, at the House of Assembly. The House heard the presentation of the budget address from Minister of Finance, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves.
The new Minister of Finance, from the start of his address, acknowledged that he had the “distinct honour and privilege to present [his] my first Appropriation Bill to the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines”. Thereafter, the Minister of Finance paid tribute to his predecessor, Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. To this end, he said, “It would be unpardonable of me not to acknowledge the giant on whose shoulders I now gratefully stand. The longest-serving Finance Minister in the history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who served with distinction, passion and creativity for the past 16 years.”
Minister Gonsalves captioned the 2018 Appropriation Bill: “Continuity and Change: Job Creation, Resilience, Sustainable Development and New Opportunities in a Rapidly-Changing Global Environment”. The 2018 budget covered issues in the regional and global economy, productive sectors in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, (agriculture, tourism, and information communication technology), infrastructural developments, including roads and bridges and seaport development, climate change and the environment, job creation and poverty reduction, health and wellness, and tax reduction and reform, among others.
According to Minister Gonsalves, the 2018 budget is geared towards "a vision for national development. We are embracing continuity, settled stability, and sensible change. 2018 is a time for optimism. Cautious optimism, yes. Guarded optimism, leavened by the constant threat of climate events and a number of global uncertainties. But optimism nonetheless.”
In his conclusion, the Minister of Finance stated, “this year, and, indeed the future of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, belongs to the committed, disciplined, productive, innovative vanguard of Vincentians, who will embrace the possibilities of a rapidly-changing future and invest sweat, talent and intellect in making our country ever greater.” He urged all Vincentians to work together to “build that better Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”