Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie has projected that the BVI economy remains intact despite a shortfall in revenue, primarily because of the economy fallout from COVID-19 for most of 2020.
In his 2021 budget presentation in the House of Assembly yesterday, November 13, the Premier indicated that the draft estimates showed total Government revenue in 2020 was $340M, which was $22M less than initially projected and 6.65 percent lower than 2019 actual revenue.
“Mr Speaker, it goes without saying that the COVID-19 global pandemic disrupted and depressed business activity. Revenues shrunk. At the same time priorities had to be reorganised and funding re-assigned to more critical needs,” the Premier stated.
The Premier disclosed that the Ministry of Finance is projecting a small, but tenuous balance on our overall operations in 2020. He also shared that central government debt stands at $149.11M.
“Notwithstanding this, the BVI’s economy remains intact and full of promise. The most recent Cash Flow Report from the Ministry of Finance projects that the Consolidated Fund balance at Friday, 13 November, 2020, will be $41.6M, taking into consideration anticipated inflows and outflows. The accounts payable balance as at 13 November, 2020 is projected to be nil,” the Premier stated.
He shared that Government’s total debt is in the vicinity of $149M, of which $97M is foreign debt and $52M is local debt. According to the Premier, the operating line of credit remains paid in full while total cash and investments are reported to be $208.3M as at 6 November, 2020.
Compared to 2019 and based on estimates for 2020, the Premier revealed that the tourist arrival levy fell by $1.8M. while passenger tax increased by $1.1M, but revenue from cruising permits fell by $3.3M, and hotel accommodation tax proceeds fell by $420,000 or 16.02 percent.
Recurrent expenditure for fiscal 2020, according to the estimates, totalled $366.5 million, representing a 12 percent increase over the budgeted figure and a 19 percent increase over the 2019 total.
This sum includes $57.4 million in COVID-19 prevention expenses that were not initially budgeted for since this coronavirus had not even been heard of at the time.