Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Monday disclosed that less than 30 percent of the Public Sector Investment Programe (PSIP) has been expended, almost six months into the year.
“As at end June, less than 30 percent of the public sector investment programme (PSIP) was expended. What is the reason for this continued sloth in the implementation of the PSIP, at a time when it was touted as a boost to spending in the economy?” the Finance Minister told a gathering at the Marriott Hotel during the opening ceremony of the Budget 2018 Preparation and Sensitisation Session.
Answering his own question, the Finance Minister expressed that “no late budget excuse is applicable any longer, because for Budget 2017, the presentation to Parliament was on the 28th of November, 2016 – a signal accomplishment of this administration.”
Former Junior Finance Minister Bishop Juan Edghill had chided the government for failing to spend the monies allocated in the 2016 Budget, noting that “money isn’t the problem, management is the problem.”
Jordan indicated that budget agencies, as at June, were still figuring out specifications of items to be purchased.
The Minister also stated that ineffective management, and poor monitoring and supervision will compromise and depreciate the quality of any undertaking.
“Thus, it is opportune to remind you that you are servants of the people charged with spending tax-payers money (including your own taxes) prudently, efficiently and effectively. Wastage and inefficiency are to be abhorred; they rob the people of this country of broader, targeted and timely benefits such as better services, better infrastructure and, ultimately, a better quality of life,” he said.
Furthermore, he disclosed that Government will be spending sometime analysing and reflecting on the performance of the economy for the first half of the year.
“Based on the outcome of this examination, and given the outlook for the second half of the year, a determination would be made as to the expectations for the entire year and how those compare with the budget,” he stated.
Moving forward, Minister Jordan noted the 2018 National Budget is being crafted at a time when domestic revenues and other sources of financing are not expected to be substantially higher than 2017.
“You are well aware of demands by certain groups for removal of one tax or the other. You are well aware that as a result of our upper middle income classification, concessional resources are dwindling,” he explained.
Therefore, the Finance Minister posited that the government will have to exert greater effort to widen the tax net through greater efficiency in the administration and collection of taxes.
On the other hand, he stressed that pressures of expenditures continue to mount.
“For example, in 2018, we have to find new monies to finance Local Government Elections and re-build the country’s prison system, even as we continue to support GuySuCo, which continues to consume billions of dollars,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Minister Jordan said Budget 2018 can show significant improvements over Budget 2017 in terms of results achieved if only heads of budget agencies adopt more proactive approaches.