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$8m FOR BABY SIMEON

Govt seeking additional $3.8b for 2014 budget to pay expenses

By Asha Javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

Government is seeking a $3.8 billion increase to its 2014 budget to pay for expenses such as $8 million for the report into the death of baby Simeon and an additional $32.8 million for LifeSport.
Those are two of the expenses that will come before the Finance Committee of the Parliament when members meet today to consider proposals for the multi billion dollar increase to the country’s $61.4 billion 2014 budget.
The Finance Committee of the House is chaired by Finance Minister Larry Howai.
The Express obtained a copy of the proposed Supplementation of the Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2014 for the sum of $3,820,601,879 “to fund urgent and critical recurrent and capital expenditure to September 30, 2014, in areas where insufficient or no allocation was provided.” Among the expenses for the proposed increases are:

1. $32.8 million to meet expenses for the controversial LifeSport Programme,
2. $8 million for the Ministry of the Attorney General “to meet outstanding legal fees as well as the costs incurred by the appointment of an independent committee to investigate/review the circumstances surrounding the death of the baby of Quelly Ann Cottle.”
3. $12 million to meet the arrears of salaries and allowances of Parliamentarians with respect to the revision undertaken by the Salaries Review Commission (SRC),
4. An additional $34 million for the Ministry of Food Production “to meet the cost of maintenance and repairs to agricultural access roads”
5. $258,000,000 for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as supplementary funding of US$40 million is required to provide support to the financial system of these states as a result of the Clico/Baico collapse
6. $1.2 billion to the Infrastructure Development Fund- funds are required to meet anticipated increased expenditure for projects,
7. ‘Extraordinary Expenditure’-$8 million- to defray the expenses incurred with respect to the funeral services of former President Arthur NR Robinson
8. $78,962,000 for the acquisition of a digital public safety communication system for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service
9. $ 9 million for the Ministry of Legal Affairs for “Promotions, Publicity and Printing...The sum would be utilised to liquidate the expenses incurred as a result of additional media campaigns
10. $14.8 million for the Ministry of Food Production for the administrative and operational expenses for the Praedial Larceny Squad,
11. $5 million for the office of the Attorney General for contract employment
12. $51 million for the Port Authority for expenditure of the cargo vessel “Superfast Galicia”
13. $16 million for Non-Profit Organizations from the Ministry of the People and Social Development
14. $3.3 million for the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development to facilitate the payment of the additional media campaign launched for public awareness on child abuse and protection
15. $18 million for the Boardwalk Phase II project in Chaguaramas
16. $20 million for the hosting of the Eighth America Competitiveness Forum in Trinidad and Tobago
17. $75 million for the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to meet payments to contractors for works completed
18. $59 million for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources to meet personnel expenditure
19. $95 million for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources: $20 million to meet the cost associated with the proposed “National Clean-Up Campaign” and $75 million to meet the cost of flood mitigation.
20. $32 million for the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration for the expenses of National Days and Festivals which include Indian Arrival Day, Eid-ul-Fitr, Nelson Mandela, Emancipation Day, Independence Day and Republic Day.

Of the proposed $3.8 billion, $3.5 billion would be recurrent expenditure while $369,149,940 is to fund the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).

For the recurrent expenditure:

1. $343,087,130 for personnel expenditure
2. $321,468,767 for goods and services
3. $2,240,000 for for minor equipment purchases
4. $2,095,484,912 to current transfers and subsidies
5. $605,473,000 to current transfers to statutory boards and similar bodies and
6. $83,698,130 for debt servicing
“It is to be noted that part of the Supplementary funding is required to meet the cost of implementing the revised Collective Agreement on Wages and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and other terms and conditions of employment for the daily-rated workers of Central Government, the Tobago House of Assembly and certain Municipal Corporation for the period January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013 ($857,562,157) and the revised remuneration arrangements for holders of public offices within the purview of the Salaries Review Commission ($92,269,040),” the note read.
At $61.4 billion, the 2014 budget was the country’s largest budget.
The Government had hoped to collect $55 billion in revenue with expenditure pegged at $61.4 billion for a $6.4 billion deficit.
In March, Howai had said the Government recorded a $4 billion surplus.
For the first quarter of fiscal year 2013/2014, there was a $4 billion surplus instead of the $708 million deficit that it had anticipated. Expenditure, on the other hand, amounted to $11.299 billion, or $1.96 billion less than the $13.259 billion that had been budgeted.
In an interview with the Express last Monday, Howai had indicated that the Government would go back to raise additional financing.
“Part of the problem, of course, is that for the first half of the year we actually showed a surplus and expenditure is below budget by about three billion but ironically sometimes we still need additional because you can’t reallocate funding between Ministries. We will probably ask for additional funding but overall we should come within the projected deficit, which will probably be much lower and get to our goal of a balanced budget,” he had said.
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