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$700m wage bill

Geralyn Edward

$700m wage bill

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THE PUBLIC SECTOR wage bill is set to increase to nearly $700 million even as Government tries to plug a $584.4 million hole in its 2011-2012 expenses and income.
According to the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which were laid in Parliament yesterday and will be debated come Monday, Government is projecting that it will receive $2.52 billion in revenue during the financial year 2011-2012 on the accrual basis. On the cash basis that figure is $2.48 billion.
Importantly, the Freundel Stuart-led administration, which says the island’s economy is slowly coming out of recession, is projecting that its revenue will increase 5.7 per cent above the revised estimate of $2.34 billion last year.
However, a big budget shortfall appears for Government as it projects it will have to spend $3.55 billion in the coming financial year to keep public operations going.
That Government spending, the document noted, will be an “increase of 6.9 per cent below the revised estimate” of the 2010-2011 financial year.
The fiscal deficit of $584.4 million or 6.8 per cent of GDP is below the 7.8 per cent deficit that Government thought it would face in the outgoing financial year.
When the numbers are broken down, however, Government is projecting that the bulk of its revenue – $1.16 billion – will come from value added taxes on goods and services. This is an increase on last year’s $1 billion.
Some $814.59 million in revenue is expected to come from personal and corporation taxes and $216.61 million from taxes on international trade in the coming financial year.
On the other hand, the bulk of Government spending – $639.42 million – will be for the general public service.
The education budget will again receive a sizeable portion of taxpayer dollars as $537.28 million has been budgeted there. Health spending for the coming year is set at $431.47 million, while social security and welfare will get an increased amount of $263.61 million.
The public sector wage bill is up from $634.29 million estimated for 2010-2011 to $690.08 million in the coming financial year. The document also revealed that grants to public institutions were projected to drop from the $675.96 million for 2010-2011 to $619.90 million for the coming year.

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