“Surgical trimming” in 2019/2020 budget

RBPF’s allocation for personal emoluments decrease by $5.31 million

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  The 2019/2020 budget reflects substantial decreases to personal emoluments and other line items in the majority of ministries and government agencies.

Personal emoluments include wages and salaries for permanent and pensionable workers, salaries for contract workers and allowances such as overtime, uniform allowance, and risk and hazard allowance, among others.

In his budget communication a week ago, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said following a ministry by ministry analysis of expenditure compared to budgeted sums, the government uncovered a “historical pattern of overbudgeting” and sought ways to “surgically trim” the upcoming budget.

He said in the category of personal emoluments for example, the government found that the budget included allocations for salaries that were no longer being paid.

“As a result, you will see a reduction in the budgeted amount for salaries, along with line items in every single ministry,” Turnquest said.

“This budget cut does not mean a cut in the actual headcount, or in actual programs.

“It simply means we are budgeting properly to account for the actual commitment of the government.”

The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will see the largest reduction in personal emoluments, from $114.92 million to $109.61 million — a reduction of $5.31 million.

This was the result of the allocation for salary for permanent and pensionable workers decreasing from $95.9 million to $91 million, as well as overtime for monthly employees being reduced from $1.79 million to zero for 2019/2020.

The total budget for the RBPF decreased by over $4 million — from $127.9 million to $123.72 million.

The Ministry of Finance will undergo the second largest reduction in personal emoluments, decreasing by $3.94 million — from $16.09 million to $12.15 million, the budget shows.

The allocation for permanent and pensionable workers in the ministry decreased from $9.73 million to $4.3 million — a more than $5.4 million decrease — while the allocation for contract workers, however, increased by $2.39, from $109,200 to $2.5 million.

Overall, the ministry’s budget decreased by over $139.1 million — from $360.72 in the current budget to $221.59 in the upcoming budget.

This was largely the result of several line items being significantly reduced or transferred out of the ministry, including the allocations for the Financial Intelligence Unit, Securities Commission, Central Bank of The Bahamas, Sundry Constituency Projects, and the National Health Insurance Authority (transferred to the Ministry of Health).

The line item ‘other charges’ in the ministry was cut from $39.56 million to $25.69 million — a nearly $14 million decrease.

Subsidies to private enterprises, such as cruise line operators ($30 million in 2018/2019) was reduced to zero in 2019/2020. However, cruise line operators arrears, which appears to be a new line item in the budget, was allocated $12.44 million.

Support for the Small Business Development Centre was also reduced from $5 million to $2.5 million.

The government has budgeted over $42.2 million for the ministry in capital expenditure.

As it relates to the Department of Education, personal emoluments will be reduced by $3.91 million, from $180.14 million to $176.23 million.

Salary for permanent and pensionable workers will see a decrease of over $16 million ($162.18 million to $145.59 million) while the salary for contract workers will increase by nearly $7 million ($8.92 million to $15.83 million).

In the department, the allocation for education supplies will increase from $1.53 million to $3.8 million.

The school bus service contracts are also expected to increase by more than $840,000 to $7.28 million.

Additionally, the janitorial service contract for the department will see its allocation increased from $118,800 to $1.45 million.

The department’s budget overall decreased by $205.63 million to $202.2 million.

In the Ministry of Education, wages and salaries will be reduced from $9.15 million to $8.25 million.

The budget for the ministry will increase from $92.66 million in 2018/2019 to $109.99 million in 2019/2020.

This was large due to the combined scholarships of $21.4 million to the University of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Vocational and Technical Institute.

International scholarships, however, will be reduced by $3.6 million to $14.11 million.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also see its budget decreased from $35.5 million to $33.69 million, largely the result of the allocation for personal emoluments being slashed from $16.63 million to $13.03 million — a decrease of $3.6 million.

In the ministry, the government has increased the allocation for the Caribbean Regional Secretariat (CARICOM) by over $335,000 — from $1.85 million to $2.18 million.

The budget for operational expenses in the ministry will also increase in the upcoming period by nearly $900,000 — from $4.66 million to $5.55 million.

In the Ministry of Health, the allocation for personal emoluments will be reduced from $44.83 million to $42.79 million — a more than $2 million decrease.

Overall, the budget the ministry increased, from $293.9 million to $301.9 million.

This was largely the result of the increased allocation for the Public Hospital Authority, which has been budgeted $223.45 million in the upcoming budget, compared to the $216 million in the current budget.

Personal emoluments in the Registrar General’s Department will see a decrease of over $210,000 — from $2.34 million to $2.13 million.

The allocation for personal emolument in the Parliamentary Registration Department will also be cut by $117,400.

The line item for election expenses in the department has been allocated $677,000, down from the $720,000 in the current fiscal year.

Similarly, personal emoluments for the Ministry of Public Workers will decrease by more than $680,000 — from $7.44 million in 2018/2019 to $6.76 million in 2019/2020.

The overall budget for the ministry was increased by over $4.5 million to $53.26 million.

Diesel for the ministry will increase fivefold, from $1 million to $5.2 million.

Conversely, the allocation for gasoline will decrease from $6 million to $4 million.

Additionally, the line item street lighting has been allocated $10 million, $2 million more than the current budget period.

The allocation for personal emoluments will also be slashed in the Ministry of Social Services ($600,000); the Department of Social Services ($2.62 million); the Ministry of the Environment ($1.15 million); the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture ($320,000); the Department of Labour ($315,000); and the Post Office Department ($370,000).

Increased wages

The Treasury Department and the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services were among the handful of government departments to see an increase in personal emoluments.

For the Treasury Department, personal emoluments have been allocated $45.15 million for 2019/2020, up $1.98 million from the $43.17 allocated for 2018/2019.

The government has budgeted $24.83 million for personal emoluments for the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services — an increase of $2.46 million.

A closer look at the budget for the department shows that the allocation for equipment maintenance will decrease from $321,000 to $6,000, while the allocation for building maintenance will see an increase from $337,000 to $400,000.

The overall budget for the Department of Correctional Services will be increased from $26.67 million to $28.92 million.