Govt. to spend $18.9 million on travel

Govt. to spend $18.9 million on travel

Financial Secretary says figure does not reflect significant increases to govt. travel

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While originally allocating $8.95 million for “travel and subsistence” in the upcoming fiscal year, the Minnis administration has allocated an estimated $18.93 million, according to the budget for 2019/2020.

In the current budget introduced last June, the government increased the allocation for travel, budgeting $8.88 for the 2018/2019 fiscal period — $220,000 more than in 2017/2018.

It budgeted $9.09 million for 2020/2021.

In the 2019/2020 budget, the forecasted allocation for 2020/2021 is $20.46 million.

The government has budgeted a further $20.97 million for the fiscal period, 2021/2022.

The increases in this budget cycle were previously explained as proper accounting of the line item following underbudgeting by the previous administration.

When contacted yesterday, Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson explained that the government has moved to the new GFS accounting classification and the way in which line items are represented have changed.

“Essentially, what that would mean is that the information you see under the head is rolled up to cover all functional elements under that particular item,” Johnson told Eyewitness News Online.

“The travel you see there from one figure to the next figure, include travel elements that would have been a program line up in the previous budget.

“What do I mean by that?

“…In the Ministry of Finance, we used to have something called the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

“All of the travel related to the FIU in the existing budget chart of account would have bene under the FIU. So, the travel in the ministry would not have included the travel in the FIU because the travel in the FIU would have been in the line item.

“In the current budget, because it is broken [down] by function, all travel related to a particular unit inside that agency would now roll up into that travel line item and not be in that former unit head.”

The largest increase for travel and subsidence in upcoming budget was reflected in the Ministry of Social Services.

The allocation for domestic travel increased from $76,000 in 2018/2019 to $4.091 million in 2019/2020.

International travel in the ministry is expected to increase from $452,000 to $728,631.

Under the Ministry of Health, domestic travel is forecasted for 2019/2020 at $1.83 million.

In the current budget, the allocation for domestic travel was $178,000.

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for example, travel for the upcoming fiscal year is $166,250, up from the previous allocation of $100,000.

In the Office of the Prime Minister, the allocation for domestic travel is expected to rise from $74,000 to $256,000, and international travel to increase by $50,000 – $350,000 to $400,000.

Travel in the Department of Local Government for 2019/2020 is forecasted at $328,700, up from $157,000 budget this fiscal period.

According to the budget, domestic travel in the Ministry of Finance for the upcoming budget is $159,505, up from the $97,700. International travel in the ministry, however, is expected to decline from $682,000 to $639,540.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force is projected to spend $1.25 million on ‘travel and subsistence’ in the upcoming budget, up from the $1.08 budgeted during this period.

Meanwhile, the budget showed increases in travel for the Department of Education.

Domestic travel in the department is projected at $468,303 for 2019/2020, up from the $383,950 budgeted in 2018/2019. Similarly, international travel is expected to rise from $34,200 this fiscal period to $114,00 in the upcoming budget.