By Elesha George
Government expenditure continues to increase each year as evidenced by the record $1.7 billion-dollar budget announced for 2020.
Under the tagline, ‘Growth and development for the benefit of all’, the figure represents an increase of almost $300 million when compared to 2019, which had a budget of $1.4 billion. And it is approximately $500 million more than 2018 which boasted an estimated budget of $1.2 billion.
The increase in revenue over the past four consecutive years continues to be shared between the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.
Budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology jumped from $119.4 million last year, to $151.6 million in 2020, while the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment received the second largest allocation of $113.6 million, an increase from 2019’s allocation of $109.9 million.
The third biggest amount was reserved for national security and justice, with the Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Public Safety and Labour set to receive $108.6 million.
The Ministry of Works, tasked with maintaining and building infrastructure across the twin island state, has been allocated $84.5 million; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration – $39.3 million; National Festivals and the Arts – $25.7 million; and the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Information Technology – $20.4 million.
Both the Ministry of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development, Youth and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Development have been awarded $28.6 million each.
They are followed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs – $18.3 million; Ministry of Civil Aviation, Energy and Transportation – $9.2 million; and Ministry of Housing, Lands and Urban Renewal – $6.3 million.
The Office of the Prime Minister has also been allocated $33.4 million while the Ministry of Finance, Corporate Governance and Public Private Partnerships will receive $110.9 million.
Overall, the government predicts a small surplus of $14 million dollars for 2020, quoting its estimated recurrent expenditure to include wages and salaries but excluding principal payments at $1.006 billion, while it expects to collect recurrent revenue from taxes to the tune of $1.02 billion.
Additionally, the government has set aside $206.1 million for its capital budget, to be used to acquire assets for the state in 2020. The government expects that it will spend $96 million more than it will receive in revenues.
Important to note is that there were no new taxes announced this year, unlike 2019’s tax on sugary beverages and the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) windfall tax.