But slashes allocation for environment/natural resources and disaster management
Bowe: The spending priorities will naturally follow the priorities for the administration of the day
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Davis administration has increased the allocation for social assistance benefits by nearly $37 million and the allocation for pension and gratuities by nearly $20 million, according to details contained in the supplemental budget tabled yesterday.
The allocation for social assistance benefits for the 2021/2022 fiscal year was $115,831,990 and has now been revised to $152,685,590.
Similarly, for pensions and gratuities, the allocation has been adjusted upwards from $150,850,598 to $170,471,181.
The Davis administration has slashed the budget allocations of several ministries, most notably the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction by more than $7 million respectively.
The budget allocation for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for 2021/2022, which stood at $26,590,962, has been adjusted by nearly $8 million to $18,731, 860.
Similarly, the budget allocation for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, which was $8,780,486 for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, has been adjusted downward to just $1,490,289.
Several other ministries have, however, received increases in their budgetary allocation for fiscal year 2021/2022.
The Ministry of Finance has seen an upward revision in its budget by just over $31 million to $284,383,400.
The Ministry of Public Service has seen its budgetary allocation revised upward by nearly $20 million to $325,716,436.
The Ministry of Works and Utilities has received an additional $7.7 million revision to its budget allocation, which now stands at $55,435,263.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs, which had just under $2 million allocated to it for the fiscal year, received a nearly $12.5 million addition to its allocation.
Additionally, the Office of the Prime Minister has seen its allocation revised to an additional $6.7 million, for a $27.9 million allocation for the fiscal year.
Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis noted yesterday that the revised budget will not increase the deficit but reprioritizes unnecessary budgeted expenditures to areas where they are most needed; restores the fiscal health of the country over the medium-term; and ensures that the government continues to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in society.
Gowon Bowe, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) CEO, commenting on the supplementary budget statement, noted: “The communication was an attempt to set the foundation for what they see themselves as having to work with.
“There were some key messages, one being that the deficit is not going to be adjusted upwards. There are some observers who want to see that reduced. The spending priorities will naturally follow the priorities for the administration of the day.
“The challenges that existed prior to the election are still here in terms of fiscal headroom tightening, the debt situation and economic challenges in terms of recovery.”
Bowe also noted that the $1 billion in unreported commitments, as alleged by Davis yesterday, contains a number of obligations that have existed over past administrations, such as court judgments and pension liabilities.
“I note that the government has clarified its VAT (value-added tax) initiative and will remove the zero rating and exemptions,” he added.
“We know that, from the original studies done, a VAT system with limited exemptions is simplified, increases compliance but most importantly avoids providing benefits to those who can afford to pay the taxes.”