As we have reported, an International Monetary Fund team visited Belize from June 6th to the 15th and then published a Concluding Statement in which it said that while the economy is expected to return to positive growth in 2017, the medium term outlook remains weak. It stated that despite Government’s belt tightening measures, there is the need for an increase on the revenue side and even further tightening on the expenditure side. For revenue increase, it suggests that GST may need to be raised from 12.5% to 15 % . In terms of expenditure, it suggests that retrenchment may be needed to stabilize the number of public employees and contain the wage bill. Today, the Deputy Prime Minister was asked for his take on the IMF statement.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: Well you will always find that these recommendations coming from the IMF are stern and stiff. Traditionally under the leadership of our current prime minister, we have tried to address the problems in our economy by not always following the prescription from the IMF. Those are often very stern and in fact we have had occasion in the past to learn very difficult lessons politically from following tee tie toe what the IMF recommends. We believe in some home grown measures from time to time that help us. If I recall correctly I do recollect the report saying that while the growth is not where we would want it to be that it is looking positive, that is going to be positive and so we will continue to utilise our home grown efforts where that coincide with what the IMF prescribes then fine but we want to do what is best for our people and whatever measures we put in place to fix the economy cannot come with the result of human suffering further especially for the poor people in this country. So we are resolute in making sure that doesn’t happen