Down to the wire

Elections definitely next year, based on forward Estimates

If the annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure are anything to go by, 2018 is definitely the year for elections in Barbados.

While making a deliberate effort to control its spending in 2017/2018, the Freundel Stuart administration looks set to go all out to woo voters next year in terms of its financial provisions as it prepares to come face to face with the constitutional deadline.

For starters, the Electoral & Boundaries Commission (EBC), the main executing agency for any national poll, will be operating on a reduced budget of $5.1 million for fiscal year 2017/2018, down from $8.6 million for fiscal 2016/2017.

And while the EBC’s budget is to be maintained at $5 million next year, there is greater evidence of Government’s political intent in its increased allocations for its various social and political agencies.

Chief among these is the Office of the Prime Minister, whose budget has been reduced from $167 million to $155 million for fiscal 2017/2018, but is due to soar to $210 million for fiscal 2018/2019, in keeping with the need for greater political largess.

Defence and Security are also vital in any given year, but more so at election time. Therefore, it has come as no surprise that the budget, which has generally been maintained around $53 million, is set to be increased by about six million in time for Stuart’s much anticipated announcement. The Office of the Attorney General is also to be allocated $161 million, up from $146 million in what looks to be an election year. This includes an expanded budget for police services of $119 million up from $106 million in the current financial year.

Equally unsurprising is the level of attention paid to living and working conditions of urban households. Already, Government’s vote for the Urban Development Commission is up slightly from $5.5 million in fiscal 2016/2017 to $6 million this year. However, provision is made in the Forward Estimates for 2018/2019 for a whopping $35.4 million for urban renewal, which encompasses many of the so called marginal seats that have known to decide the outcome of Barbados elections.

The Rural Development Commission’s budget will also increase to $10 million, up from $4.4 million, as part of an overall boost to the Ministry of Housing and Lands, whose allocation is set to increase to $138 million in fiscal 2018/2019, up from $111 million.

With Stuart expected to carry the country down to the wire, the spending of the Ministry of Transport and Works has been fixed at $125 million for 2017/2018. However, that figure moves up to $205 million next year, based on Government’s Forward Estimates.

The budget for the Steve Blackett-led Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development is also due to increase to $82 million, up from $79 million in 2017/2018. This includes over $2 million more for the Welfare Department.

Next year, the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Human Development can also look forward to its biggest budget in five years. A provision of $90 million is being made, up from $80 million in the Revised Estimates for 2016/2017 and the $84 million that has been set aside for 2017/2018. The figure includes $45 million to finance increases to non-contributory pensioners who are due to be added to the roll of the National Insurance Department, while provision has been made for $316 million under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for prompt settlement of retiring benefits, up from $297 million for fiscal 2017/2018 and $242 million for 2016/2017.

The first in a series of payments to CLICO and BAICO policyholders and investors are to begin this year, with CLICO policyholders due to receive $25 million and BAICO investors $4.9 million after waiting in vain for the past eight years for relief following the collapse of their Trinidad-based parent company, CL Financial.

The Forward Estimates, which can only be considered a wishlist at this stage in the absence of parliamentary approval, also make provision for an increase in the vote for Health, with the David Thompson Polyclinic to receive $1.98 million this coming year, up from $793,370 in fiscal 2016/2017, with a further increase planned for 2018/2019 to $2.05 million.

In terms of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the vote is set to increase to $70.8 million in the 2018/2019 financial year which begins in April, up from $64.6 million in the current Estimates and $57 million, based on the Revised Estimates for 2016/2017.

Seven million has also been set aside for Technical and Vocational Training up from $3.1 million in the current Estimates.

As part of Government’s planning for 2018/2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ budget is also set to increase to $57.7 million, even though the allocation made last year for the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations has been discounted. 

9 Responses to Down to the wire

  1. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore March 14, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Every attempt will be made using the public’s purse to woo voters in this current election season. The fiscal madness will continue as this clown of a PM attempts to win an election he is sure to lose. No amount of reckless spending or delays in calling the poll can change the inevitable, that we done with DEM.

    Reply
  2. Eve March 14, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Everybody hates Chris wants to know where to CUT – He should first CUT his salary and Fume salary should be cut by 99.9999% for being the worst minister of finance and Prime Minister. The other ministers salaries by 90% for being the worst ministers ever. The Commissioner of BRA salary by 100%. Cut all government workers salaries by 10%. Tax the people who winning the lotteries and stop taxing the poor people. We are 50 years old but wanna set we 50 years back. We were becoming a first world nation and we like Greece. We were once the envy of the Caribbean and now we are the laughing stock. Deplorable

    Reply
  3. Tony Webster March 15, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Today being National Suck-Up Day, I can safely assay that Brain and Beauty are admixed very well in this piece by our dear Editor!!. The numbers speak for themselves, but dear lady, please help those “slow” citizens like me, to understand WHERE these extra zillions are to come from?

    As you’re clearly on a roll…could you sahre with us if it’s a “yuge” Russian, or Chinese, or Heavenly transport aircaraft will be landing at GAIA, with of all that elections-cash on board? It’s either that…or perhaps, our Hon. Min. Finance might win the El Gordo lottery, and we will avoid these zillions being added to the debt-mountain already on our backs?

    Are these folks for real? Those who the Gods wouldst destroy…they first make feel omnipotent….AND go mad!

    Reply
  4. Bradg March 15, 2017 at 5:42 am

    Those like me waiting on income TAX and VAT returns gotta suck salt?? Anyway…this administration’s time in office can’t come soon enough.

    Reply
  5. Bradg March 15, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Soon enough for DEM to demit office.

    Reply
  6. Sonia boyce March 15, 2017 at 8:27 am

    I think that this government should cut the pay of all them big up who getting thousand of dollars per month and all those allowances how can the ministers take back they 10 per cent pay cut and them asked the poor man at the bottom of the salary scale who working for 2000 per month out there struggling n max out who in get a pay increase for nine years to give up 200 in pay cut this is madness the poor man can’t handle it

    Reply
  7. lester March 15, 2017 at 9:57 am

    hope the BLP don’t come with the ADAM SYNDROME

    Reply
  8. Carson C Cadogan March 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    The present Parliamentary session goes down to May 2018. So I dont see why this is a surprise to Kaymar.

    Reply
  9. Donild Trimp March 15, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    The PM is on the right track.

    Cannot see the DLP losing this upcoming elections unless the BLP comes up with miraculous solutions and from what I can gather, they don’t have any.

    Reply

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