Government looking to increase its expenditure this year
The Freundel Stuart administration intends to spend more this year that it did last year, including on wages and salaries. Government will also earn less that it spends, leaving it with a deficit.
This is based on the Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue for the 2016-2017 financial year, which were laid in Parliament today by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
However, it does not appear likely that public sector trade unions will be afforded their wish of a pay increase.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs said an additional $17.8 million was likely to be added to the wages and salaries bill, taking it to $758.7 million, a 2.4 per cent rise. However, it said the additional expenditure was mainly due to provision made for payment of outstanding increments.
Top officials of the National Union of Public Workers, who had served notice of their pay demands late last year, could not be reached for comment today, but the General Secretary of the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB), Denis DePeiza, said while he had not heard the announcement of the Estimates, the unions intended to press ahead with their demand for a pay hike for public servants.
Depeiza said CTUSAB, which has also said it was interested in engaging employers in negotiations for pay increases, had yet to sit down and iron out the details.
In the meantime, Government has revealed its intention to spend a total of $4.3 billion this year. This amounts to an increase of $92.5 million or 2.2 per cent over the revised figure for 2015-2016. Of the total figure, $4.04 billion represents current expenditure while $1.2 billion is for capital expenditure and amortization.
And based on projected current revenues of $2.7 billion, Government expects an overall deficit of about five per cent this year.
“On the accrual basis, when amortization of $821.7 million is taken into account, a baseline deficit of 5.0 per cent is expected,” the statement said.
Expenditure on goods and services is due to increase by $106.9 million to $459.9 million while current transfers are projected to decrease by $88.2 million or 7.7 per cent to $1.05 billion.
In terms of its repayment of debt, this is expected to account for $1.7 billion, compared to the revised projection of $1.6 billion.
Against the backdrop of the recent health care financing debate, the biggest chunk of Governments spending – $146.3 million – will be on the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital, according to the Estimates.
Over 90 million has also been earmarked for the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority; $80 million for the redevelopment of Sam Lord’s Castle; and $71.3 million for the University of the West Indies. (KJ/EJ)