The Mia Mottley adminstration tonight tabled its first appropriations bill – known as the Estimates – since coming to power eight months ago, with projections of a small deficit of $32.369 million for the new financial year.
In the 714-page document that was laid in Parliament in the absence of the Prime Minister, who was on official business overseas, the administration outlined plans to spend $3.181 billion and rake in about $3.148 billion in revenues.
Debate on the appropriations for the new fiscal year which begins on April 1st is set to begin on Monday.
The deficit is in stark contrast to what the previous Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration outlined in its Estimates for the 2018/2019 financial year, when it projected a massive deficit of $1.4 billion.
“Current Revenue collected to December 31, 2018 increased by 0.2 per cent from current revenue for the same period in fiscal year 2017-2018. Current Expenditure to December 31, 2018 decreased by 26.9 per cent from current expenditure for the same period in fiscal year 2017-2018. Capital Expenditure at December 31, 2018 decreased by 52.8 per cent from capital expenditure for the same period in fiscal year 2017-2018,” said the document.
The highly anticipated Estimates comes as the country receives a passing grade from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the first six months of its Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, which was implemented in June last year with the introduction of revenue raising measures.
Phases two and three of that programme includes the retrenchment and retooling and retraining of civil servants, the merger of some government departments and agencies, and the modernization of all government processes.
The document, which includes minor changes, showed that Government is expecting the majority of its income to come from tax revenues in the amount of $2.889 billion.
Among its revenue intake, Government is expecting to rake in $1.48 billion from goods and services, $1 billion from taxes on income and profits, $216.5 million from taxes on international trade and $186.7 million from taxes on property.
The major chunk of its spending will go towards the general public service in the order of $1.029 billion. Capital expenditure is expected to be in the region of $199.9 million.
MP for Bridgetown Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic announced Tuesday night that the Estimates would be discussed next week.
Bostic said: “Before I beg to move for the adjournment of the honourable House, let me just remind members that given the recent amendments to the Standing Orders, the Appropriation Bill on Monday will stand referred to the Standing Finance Committee when the House resumes on Monday, and that the House will be dissolved immediately into committee for consideration of this bill, that consideration will continue throughout Monday, Tuesday and on Friday. Further consideration, the dates will be given on Friday next week.”
The House now lies suspended until Monday when debate on the Estimates begins at 10 a.m.
A breakdown of projected spending showed that Government will spend about $1.386 billion on operating expenses, of which $411.2 million will go towards goods and services and $491.32 million will go towards grants to public institutions.
Of the $882.54 million to be spent on “statutory expenses”, $605.941 million will be on “statutory personal emoluments” while $270 million will be spent on retiring benefits.
With Government currently involved in a debt restructuring exercise, the Estimates make provision for the payment of some $711.89 million towards the servicing of debt, of which $333.935 will go towards interest expense, $4.569 million for expenses of loans and $373.386 million for debt amortization.
As for the various ministries, the Ministry of Education, Technology and Vocational Training will take the biggest slice of the pie with a total subvention of $524.2 million, compared to the $386.1 million last financial year.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is next in line for a massive grant of $311.55 million, with $167 million of that going towards “hospital services”.
The Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment is to receive $481.1 million, while the Office of the Attorney General is to get $152 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
The Ministry of Transport and Works and maintenance will receive $120.66 million, an increase of about $16 million.
The Estimates make provision of $143.2 million for the Prime Minister’s Office, compared to the $109.4 million outlined in the 2018/2019 revised estimates.
The Sam Lord’s Castle project, which falls under that portfolio, is to be allocated $30 million for the 2019/2020 financial year. The Barbados Tourism Investment Inc will receive $3.64 million.
Of the other key areas, the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development will get $94.2 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, down from a revised estimate of $110.9 million in the last financial year. The amount to be allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been shaved down to $65.58 million, from the revised $77.3 million in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
The island’s vital Ministry of Tourism and International Transport will receive $23.18 million, about $2 million less than the revised estimates for the last financial year. Meanwhile, $67.67 million will go to the Ministry of Home Affairs, down from the revised $78.5 million last financial year; and the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources will receive $33.2 million.