Archer outlines spending bill

| 26/06/2013

Marco Archer LA.jpg(CNS): The Minister for Finance has asked the Legislative Assembly to approve an appropriations bill for $193.4 million, which will allow the government to function from 1 July to 31 October. Addressing the House Wednesday morning, Marco Archer said government expects to have a deficit of around $56 million during the four-month period. However, he said this “should not cause alarm”, as it covered the second half of the year where government revenues were less than operating expenditures. The minister also sought to maintain a $30 million overdraft facility, which he assured the House would be adequate and for which the government has already received verbal approval from the UK.

Bringing the motion for temporary appropriations to the House, the new finance minister, outlining the first government spending plans for this administration, said that during this four-month period the government would prepare the 2013/14 Budget and present it to the LA, and he assured the House that the full-year budget for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2014 would show a significant operating surplus.

Explaining expected spending, he said government had “sought to meet its moral obligations while keeping a tight hold on the public purse as we develop the full budget.”

This emergency spending package sought by the government, once approved, will take effect after the financial year ends on 30 June. It includes equity investments amounting to $8.9 million, which includes $2.5 million for the Cayman Turtle Farm to cover debt obligations; $2 million for the new Ministry of Home Affairs to establish a holding-area for those arrested and held in custody by the police, as well as funding to start the youth custody area at Northward Prison.

“All efforts are being made to complete this prior to November 2013, which is when the government needs to be compliant with the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitutional Order 2009, with respect to the segregation of juvenile and adult prisoners,” Archer told the House.

The bill includes $1.8 million for the Ministry of Education for minor capital works and purchasing equipment and furniture; $1.7 million and $0.6 million for Cayman Airways and the National Housing Development Trust respectively to meet debt obligations.

Government is also asking for CI$173.8 million in operating expenses; $7.9 million in financing expenses to cover the interest payments on the outstanding public debt; $2.3 million for executive assets; and $0.4 million to fund loans made by the government to civil servants and to qualified persons needing assistance with expenses related to overseas medical care.

Outlining the main items on the executive assets list, Archer said the government needed $750,000 for miscellaneous road surface upgrades; $250,000 to settle on-going Gazetted land claims arising from roads development; and for Cayman Brac he asked for $350,000 for continued road development, $350,000 for further development of the Bluff playing field, and $250,000 to fund further development of the emergency shelter on the Bluff.

“All government agencies are expected to exercise fiscal constraint and prudence during the coming financial year,” the finance minister said. “While the government is upbeat and positive about the prospects for growth in the economy, there is still a long way to go before we can truly say that the economy has rebounded to a full-employment level. During the preparation of the full-year Budget for 2013/14, government agencies should be mindful that it is very likely that their budgets may be decreased below the level of appropriations in the 2012/13 financial year. In this current economic environment, government must innovate and deliver services at reduced costs.”

Archer explained how the Progressive government intends to deal with the controversial Nation Building Fund, which, when it was first introduced by then premier and finance minister, McKeeva Bush, in October 2009, was described in the LA by Alden McLaughlin, leader of the opposition at the time and now premier, as a potential “slush fund” for Bush.

The new finance minister said that “provisions for expenditures that are not supported by a proper framework have not been included in the interim budget.” However, he said that students who have been awarded scholarships to study overseas under the “Promotion of Nation Building” appropriation will not lose financial support, and he confirmed that provisions have been placed in the interim budget to continue in areas where the government was already committed.

“Government must also be grounded in reality and take a measured approach to our moral,safety and other obligations,” Archer told the legislature, explaining that items which were not adequately provided for in the 2012/13 Budget, such as the provision of medical care at overseas institutions for indigents, had to be adjusted in this year’s interim budget to ensure adequate levels of coverage.

Expected outputs from statutory authorities and government owned companies were based on the normal levels of services they provide. However, Archer stated that “this is one area that will be under enhanced scrutiny as the government develops the full-year budget.”

Archer said the forecast expenditures were meant to establish limits during the four-month period of the interim budget. “All efforts will continue to ensure that the government not only remains within those limits, but actually spends less than the amounts shown in the Schedule to the Government Motion,” he said as he asked for support for the motion.

Debate in the House on the interim budget is expected to continue until late this evening. However, with a strong government majority, it will undoubtedly be approved.

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Comments (43)

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  1. Michel says:

    I am proud of our new Finance Minister. Like a breath of fresh air removing All the Salt left behind. God Bless Marco.

    • Anonymous says:

      We are indeed proud that we have a Finance Minister, but presenting a budget of expenses and income is academic. The way that the real expenditures and revenue are handled is the real test. Also with the best of intentions and no control process over the people whose hands are used to counting it out all of the predictions in the world come to naught. So Marco dear boy, you’ve only just begun.

  2. Cold Hard Truth says:

    I hope all those bloggers that jumped down people's throats were diligent enough to notice that CNS has NOW corrected its article: the article now states that the Deficit for the 4 month period from 1 July to 31 October 2013, could be $56 million and this was normal for this period.

    This is completely different from what was stated before, incorrectly, that the year to 30 June 2013 would end in a Deficit of $56 million. That year is expected to end in a large Surplus because of the burdensome Revenue increases that were introduced by the UDP Government.

    I doubt any of those bloggers critical of Civil Servants will say sorry.

    CNS: The article has been corrected – and apologies to all involved. It previously stated that the government would start the four-month period with a $56 million deficit.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is it normal for the budget to be made public as it is in the 2nd attachment?

  4. Rorschach says:

    Is "slush fund" a euphamism for vote buying??

  5. Anonymous says:

    Some of you may not understand how this works in the Civil Service – the Financial Secretary or Chief Officer do not provide the figures – they only review/report them. This work is done by  Treasury and Budget staff; and if the numbers or wrong, no one at the top will be able to recognise it because of the lack of proper accounting, budgeting and forecasting sytems.  Good luck Marco!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      8:29

       

      Was this the same  way it was done, when Makeeva was in Finance?

    • Anonymous says:

      The persons at the top you are referring to have been there now for decades, if they can't recognize a number and know whether it is reasonable or not by this point, we are in some serious trouble. If they do none of the work, then their job must be to filter, if they can't filter stuff to make sure Marco doesn't get garbage, what exactly is their purpose?

  6. Anonymous says:

    No cuts and decrease in operating expenses means the same results for any govt PPM or UDP.

    The figures and projections are a complete joke just look at the AG’s reports. Just another day in wonderland

  7. Class of 83 says:

    Yes Marco – run them numbers like the days of cross country & track & field! It took 30 years, but the Class of 1983 is very proud of YOU….Let's kick start Sat morning walks so we can discuss ideas and plans for our children's future.    

     

  8. Anonymous says:

    Another $950,000 for Cayman Brac road paving! What, did they miss someones driveway last time?

    • Rorschach says:

      Actually, the ROADS in Cayman Brac are in a sorry state of repair and NEED tobe resurfaced..only problem is, the last amount that was allocated to surfacing the roads went to driveways and parking lots and NOT on the actual roads…

      • Anonymous says:

        You Brackers have no one to blame but the "honerable" Juliana. What a joke she is.. LOL!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        If what you are saying is true, and I think it is, then it is not even laughable!! Juliana and her UDP cronies disgust me!!! They need some of that cow cod on their backside

      • Anonymous says:

        Rorschach… tell you what. Cayman Bracers can get all the road paving they want with no complaints from me when they start paying their fair share of import duties. Why should Grand Caymanians have to struggle just so the freeloading Bracers can get everything and pay nothing! The hell with Cayman Brac!

    • Mitzie Tomlinson says:

      MR Kirk please tell her NO NO you have to fix the CAY MAN KAI Road that she did not fix. Come on, May be she will pave her self in the Black top in the Brac this Time. I am over Her.

  9. Anonymous says:

    surplus/deficit….. more wonderland stuff…..

  10. Anonymous says:

    I certainly hope that the students funded via the old nation building fund will be dealt with under the Education Council and therefore subjected to the same requirements and maximum amounts as the regular scholarship students. It would be appreciated if the Honarable Finance Minister would clarify this. Just because a "nation building fund' scholar may have received more than the regular scholarship amount in years past does not mean that this should continue. Every student should be treated the same and parents must take responsibility.

    • Kurt says:

      One of the issues the PPM, and the then Independent C4C – now PPM members had was the lack of transparency / oversight with the Nation Building Funds.

      So I hope Aldenprovides a quarterly report on his Administration's use of that Fund. Otherwise the more they change these people the more things remain the same.

      • Anonymous says:

        The NBF is being closed by the PPM as per the article.

      • Anonymous says:

        It seems to be that the fund is to be done away with and all funding run through properly established expenditure frameworks. As it should be.

  11. CayStudent says:

    I must say before elections I wasn't sure about Marco, and now I think I'm a fool for overlooking him. An impressive start so far. Keep it up, Marco! If I can read a political article with a smile, you're doing good!

    • noname says:

      Finally, an educated, intelligent Minister of Finance! Thank you God! Thank you!

    • Stiffed-Necked Fool says:

      This is so refreshing after the last 4 years! Cayman is now in good & safe hands! I can only see great things ahead!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I thought the PPM were going to reduce social service hand outs.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The end of the Nation Building Fund! Thanks for that PPM. You're on the right track. 

    • B. Onneste says:

      The end of the Nation Building Fund?  I didn't see anything about ending it.  Maybe I should read it again.  Those slush funds are hard to get rid of!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Nation Building Fund did not go away read the article again. It guarantees votes no politician is brave enough to close it down and not abuse it

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, it has. “The new finance minister said that “provisions for expenditures that are not supported by a proper framework have not been included in the interim budget.” However, he said that students who have been awarded scholarships to study overseas under the “Promotion of Nation Building” appropriation will not lose financial support, and he confirmed that provisions have been placed in the interim budget to continue in areas where the government was already committed.”.

        The NBF was a provision for expenditures that are not supported by a proper framework, ie a slush fund. The language is sophisticated, but it’s there.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well said Marco boy, Great start to the budget planning, keep up the good work. You will do an EXCELLENT JOB!

    #TeamProgressives

    🙂

  15. Anonymous says:

    One of the things that the government needs to take a long hard look at is the amount of money being wasted on ego-driven and completely avoidable/completely pointless litigation and appeals, particularly but not exclusively litigation involving statutory authorities. Millions of dollars generated by these authorities that would otherwise go to government coffers is being thrown away annually. Those public officials responsible can waste such vast sums of public money trying to prove an unprovable point with impugnity. After all it is not their money that the court awards when things go against them and there is no chance that they will be disciplined for wasting public money.

  16. Anonymous says:

    That is the Marco Archer I know –

    "All government agencies are expected to exercise fiscal constraint and prudence during the coming financial year".

    "government had sought to meet its moral obligations while keeping a tight hold on the public purse as we develop the full budget"

    "All efforts will continue to ensure that the government not only remains within those limits, but actually spends less than the amounts shown in the Schedule to the Government Motion"

    "government agencies should be mindful that it is very likely that their budgets may be decreased below the level of appropriations in the 2012/13 financial year. In this current economic environment, government must innovate and deliver services at reduced costs".

    Belt tightening time.

    • Anon says:

      You don't think that Marco actually wrote that himself do you? That's a civil servant's job to write these speeches for Ministers. They never write their own.

      • Anonymous says:

        Civil servants don't determine policy. It is policy that the words convey that is the point rather than the actual words.

      • Anonymous says:

        Really?  Who is the new civil servant writing speeches for the minister of finance now then? Surely this was NOT written by the same person that wrote for the previous minister of finance! And supposedly there were no major shake-ups in the ministries. This was written by someone who actually understands what they are doing.

      • SSM345 says:

        15:59, perhaps things are different now? Can you tell the difference already?

        The new Minister of Finance is articulate so you would probably find that he writes his own speeches or maybe he doen't need to write them at all because he actually knows what he is talking about.

        And if infact he does not need someone to write his speech, that is one less job in the bloated civil service. Progress from the get go I'd say.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Bravo Marco! I support you.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Archer.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again more of the same old thing!!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Good start, Marco!