The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Office of the President and the Parliament have all received increases in expenditure in the 2017/2018 Budget.
This information is contained in the 2018 Draft Estimates of Recurrent Expenditure, which were laid in the House of Representatives on Monday. The OPM’s expenditure increased from $194,228,600 to $242,184,590 from 2017 to 2018. Within this figure, there was a $200,000 increase in the overseas travel allowance from $800,000 to $1 million.
The allocation for the expenses of Cabinet-appointed bodies increased from $28 million to $43,250,000. This figure is broken down into $42,250,000 for the National Security Council (NSC) and $1 million for other commissions and committees. The NSC is chaired by the Prime Minister.
There was a reduction in the expenditure for the OPM’s Gender Affairs Division from $505,500 to $497,000. Though it remains listed in the OPM’s estimates of expenditure, no money was allocated for the Divine Echoes Orchestra. The orchestra was the brainchild of former prime minister Patrick Manning (deceased).
Under transfers to state enterprises, there is a $5 million allocation for Golden Grove-Buccoo Ltd. This company is handling the legal arrangements for the land at Buccoo Estate in Tobago where a proposed Sandals resort is to be built. This particular head of expenditure was transferred from the Finance Ministry to the OPM. In his budget presentation in the House on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said, “We expect negotiations with the Sandals Group to be concluded shortly.”
Expenditure for the Office of the President increased from $15,919,528 to $18 million and there was a marginal increase of $40,000 in official overseas travel from $700,000 to $740,000. For buildings and maintenance, the allocation increased from $151,981 to $500,000. There was a $483,000 increase for the expenses of the President’s establishment, from $5,050,000 to $4,657,000.
Parliament’s expenditure increased from$120,943,345 to $125,943,000. However the expenditure for the Opposition Leader’s Office was reduced from $3,195,000 in 2017 to $3 million in 2018.
There were decreases in expenditure for the National Security Ministry and the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs. In the case of National Security, the reduction was from $3,647,756,537 in 2017 to $3,381,131,281 in 2018. Notwithstanding this reduction, there were increased allocations within the ministry for the Forensic Science Centre and the Immigration Detention Centre. Those respective allocations were $11,214,400 and $30,033,500.
The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs got a $15,152,248 reduction in its expenditure, with the figure falling from $302,100,898 to $286,948,650. However, under this ministry there was an increase in expenditure for the Police Complaints Authority from $18,030,000 to $18,730,000. Expenditure for the Judiciary remained constant at $387,876,110.