There is additional evidence of Government’s increased spending at a time when it should have been cutting back.
Funds budgeted for by the Freundel Stuart Administration “proved insufficient” to such an extent that it had to get an additional $274.2 million more from the Consolidated Fund.
And while supplementary financing via Parliament was not unusual and has been used by successive governments, the monies requested and used were the second largest since the Democratic Labour Party came to office in January 2008 and would likely have impacted on government’s fiscal plans.
All of this is captured in the Final Appropriation Bill for the financial year ended March 31, 2013, which showed a $155.6 million increase in supplementaries over the previous year.
Checks by Barbados TODAY found that this year’s additional funds is the third highest since 2005, coming behind $888.5 million in 2007 when Cricket World Cup was held and 2008’s $574.3 million, the majority of which was within the former Barbados Labour Party’s last year in charge.
Money sought via supplementaries over the past several years was $118.6 million (2011/2012), $250.3 million (2010/2011), $227 million (2009/2010), $574.3 million (2008/2009), $888.5 million (2007/2008), $208 million (2006/2007), $192.1 million (2005/2006), and $152.3 million (2004/2005).
The bulk of the supplementary funds used up to the end of March were for the Ministry of Health ($76 million) with $67 million of that going to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Other major beneficiary ministries were the Ministry of Transport and Works ($57.8 million), Ministry of Housing and Lands ($41.7 million), Ministry of Education ($39.2 million) including $35 million for the University of the West Indies, the Prime Minister’s Office ($16.6 million), and Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management ($13.7 million).
The funds were spent on various areas including the island’s diplomatic missions overseas, the Barbados Drug Service, National HIV/AIDS Commission, National Cultural Foundation, National Summer Camps, Welfare Department, Caves of Barbados Limited, and National Environment Enhancement Programme.
The use of supplementaries to top up government’s funds has been a contentious one in the past.
As recently as December last year, when $10.2 million of the overall $274.2 million was sought for the QEH, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler defended the method and said in the case of the $10.2 million the fiscal deficit was not threatened.
“This supplementary I want to say up front, as has been the case with most of the supplementaries, have already been costed in the Government’s budget, savings have been found to offset the cost and therefore these do not come at any additional cost to the Government’s budget by way of its deficit,” he said.
“So when people see these supplementaries coming they have to understand, and I want this to be entered into the record of the House, that the Ministry of Finance is so carefully managing the public expenditures to meet our deficit targets, which we intend to meet this year, and are on track to meet this year, … that this supplementary does not in any way do violence to the deficit targets in terms of our expenditure budget.” firstname.lastname@example.org