AGRICULTURE TAKES THE BIGGEST HIT
While the Freundel Stuart Government is proposing to spend more in the next fiscal year than it did in the current year, it is not happening without some ministries taking a cut in their budgets.
Should the 2016-17 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue laid in the House of Assembly Parliament on Tuesday be approved, the budgets of at least seven ministries will take a cut based on Barbados TODAY’s assessment of the 400-plus page document.
They are the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resources; Ministry of the Environment and Drainage; Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Development; the Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development; the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resources is in line for the biggest cut. Its allocation is down by $67.7 million from $183.88 million in 2015-2016.
There is a dramatic decrease in the proposed allocation for the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) which falls from $80 million to $32 million. Resources to support measures to stimulate increased crop production are down to $32.2 million from $51.3 million this year.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is in line for the second largest slash of $61.7 million. Its budget moves from $414.7 million this year to $352.9 million.
There is a reduction in the amount allocated for pensions, economic and social planning, and financial control and treasury management, compared to the Estimates of 2015-2016.
The Ministry of the Environment and Drainage is slated to get $107.785 million, $6.47 million less than in the last Estimates.
However, Drainage services are getting an increased allocation of $11.3 million, compared to $9.2 million this year.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation is down to get an allocation of $484.6 million, $5.9 million less than in 2015-2016.
The Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development is getting $80.525 million, down from $84.366 million in 2015-2016.
The Ministry of Health is to receive a $3.4 million cut from $336.157 million this year. A breakdown showed that overall hospital services would be cut by $8 million to $182 million. Also in line for reduction is the amount allocated for care of the elderly, down from $36.1 million in the current year to $35.8 million.
The budget of Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) also takes a $9 million cut, moving from $155.3 million to $146.2 million.
The Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development’s budget will be trimmed by $1.1 million. Its 2016-17 allocation is $33.78 million.
Under that ministry, $232,100 has been added for a human resource development strategy, while $10,000 for HIV/AIDS prevention and control has been removed.
Meanwhile, other Government ministries and departments are due to benefit from a bigger budget. These are the Ministry of Home Affairs, $60.735 million, compared to $56.374 million for 2015-2016; the Office of the Attorney General, $149.660 million, compared to $143.323 million for 2015-2016; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, $53.672 million, compared to $53,300 million, and the Ministry of Civil Service, $21.218 million, compared to $19.874 million.
Budget increases are also proposed for the Prime Minister’s Office; the Ministry of Transport and Works; the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development; the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Youth; the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, as well as the Ministry of Housing and Lands.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been allocated $180.2 million, an almost $30 million increase on the current year’s spend of $151 million. Of that figure, $78.5 million is earmarked for National Defence and Security Preparedness, an increase of almost $6 million on the revised Estimates of 2015-2016.
There was also a noticeable increase in the allocation for immigration regulatory services. It was more than doubled to $23.78 million, up from the revised estimate of $11.7 million for the current year.
The Ministry of Tourism and International Transport is to receive a boost of $74.7 million, pushing its allocation up to $227.4 million. Most noteworthy is the $80 million proposed for the Sam Lord’s Castle Redevelopment project and the $89.89 million for the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. – both under the heading of “development of tourism potential”.
The Ministry of Transport and Works is down to receive $142.452 million, up from $123.793 million this year. A further $68.426 million is proposed for road network services.
The Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development is seeing its allocation move up by $2 million from $72.958 million this year.
Under that ministry, the Gender Affairs’ budget moves to $943,600 from $876,032, while Social Policy, Research and Planning is to receive $121,542, down from $239,709. At the same time, over $1 million was axed from the Child Care Board’s budget. The child welfare protection agency is due to get $20 million for the coming fiscal year.
Another ministry which has been given an increase is the Ministry of Housing and Lands which is down to receive $107,844,082, or $986,000 more.
The budget of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth is also set to go up to $50.77 million, an increase of over $6.44 million.
If approved, Culture will benefit from the bulk of the ministry’s vote – $23 million – followed by Sports with $18 million, which includes the National Sports Council, the Gymnasium and Kensington Oval.
In the meantime, the Urban Development Commission’s budget has been cut by over $3 million to $5.5 million.
Overall, Government is estimating total earnings of just over $2.76 billion, $73 million more than for the current year.
Of that amount, $1.3 billion is projected from goods and services; just over $823 million from taxes on income and profits; $173.5 million from property taxes; $220.4 million from international trade; $14.9 million from other taxes; $30.5 million from special receipts; $101.9 million from other non-tax revenue and $26.3 million from grant income.
The Estimates also make provision for total spending in excess of $4.39 billion for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.