Earlier this week we told you about the panic memo from Financial Secretary Joe Waight. He was fending off CEO's who are scraping for end of the fiscal year budgetary windfalls. Waight warns the CEO's, quote, "there is no money in the bank…we will likely have to issue (Treasury) Notes to meet the early end of year payday next month. Our debt is already at 100% of GDP and rising. If we continue on this path we will certainly crash."
That is a dire warning if ever there was one, but since it went public, Government has been doing its best to spin the message in another direction, to make it seem that the Fin. Sec. was acting out of the usual abundance of caution, rather than true desperation.
Today, Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber told us that government is not broke:
Hon. Patrick Faber- Deputy Party Leader, UDP
"Well, it does not indicate that the government is broke. The PUP's and the opposition and other people are now jumping up for joy on the claim. Of course, you remember that when you or some colleague of yours in the media asked me about the 2.123 million, I said the exact same thing. We had gone through the budget, which is a normal exercise. It just so happens that it takes place around this time in February because the smart stream system is closed by, I think, the start of the month of March. Because we are coming to the close of the financial year in March and we are looking to start a new financial year, it is a normal process for ministries to try to look in their budget to see where things did not pan out in the manner in which they hoped. But likewise sometimes when you look at what the expenditure side didn't pan out, you also have to look at the income side and sometimes that is over short, sometimes it is bringing in more than you expected. So, it is a normal budget exercise. And for ministries to try to do that, to try to reprogram monies is something that normally happens. I think the Fin Sec's concern was just that it was happening too much and this, of course, could have caused problems and so he sent that memo. That was supposed to be internal, which to me spells a bigger problem. There might be issues, not that anything that the government does is secretive, but you see when you send an internal memo that is not meant for public consumption people can take it and make mischief out of it. My understanding is that they have taken that and linked it to the whole issue with the fuel, which of course, is not related at all. I think that is unfortunate indeed but people should know that the government is very much okay in terms of its finances and we look forward to hearing the budget presentation from the Prime Minister."
Faber stresses that this was an internal memo - not meant for public consumption.