While increasing its social assistance programs, the government has slashed civil service compensation by $20 million in the first quarter of this fiscal year, compared to the same period in 2017/2018.
The data is contained in the Ministry of Finance’s “First Quarter Report on Budgetary Performance”, which was published on Tuesday and reflects that the government has reduced the deficit by more than $56 million when compared to the same period in the last fiscal period.
“Social assistance benefits, which could be in cash or in kind (e.g. medical services), were $3 million above the prior year’s level at $11 million,” the report notes.
“This was principally associated with an additional $3.3 million directed to the National Drug Plan program, which had a total spend of $5.1 million.”
The report continued, “Pension and gratuity payments totaled $31.1 million, compared with $29.8 million last year, and represented 22.7 percent of the budget appropriation.
“Of this amount, $24.3 million was spent on pensionable officers who either have reached normal or early retirement age, opted for an early exit from the service or died while in the service – for a gain of $1.5 million.
“A relatively stable $6 million was paid in the form of gratuities.”
The government has budgeted $29.5 million for social assistance benefits this fiscal year.
The $11 million spent in the first quarter represents just over 22 percent.
Current transfers, which cover other government direct and indirect assistance to households and non-profit institutions that assist households, as well as subventions to public corporations that do not classify as subsidies, increased by $15.1 million to $43.1 million, the report shows.
In the first quarter of 2017/2018, the government spent $28 million in current transfers.
“Transfers to households, intended to relieve them from the financial burden of a number of risks and needs were $0.1 million lower at $10.4 million, of which $10 million represented scholarship payments,” the document reads.
“Transfers to non-profit institutions were moderately higher, at $3 million, compared with the $2.7 million recorded a year ago.
“Transfers to non-financial public enterprises grew by $17.5 million to $43.9 million.
“As appropriated, the government provided: $5.7 million to Bahamas Resolve to assist with payment of interest of its $167.7 million promissory note to the Bank of The Bahamas; partially settled contingent liabilities with the Bank of The Bahamas related to the Hurricane Loan and Student Loan programs, totaling $6.4 million; and extended an additional $4.9 million in subventions to several public corporations.
“In a moderate offset, the government’s contributions to international games was reduced by $3 million.”
Insurance payments of $0.8 million were well below the $3.2 million spent in the same period last year, “reflecting timing-related differences in the payment of the Caribbean Catastrophe risk insurance premium”.
Meanwhile, compensation of employees, which represented 33 percent of recurrent expenditure, stood at $171.9 million – down $20 million over the first quarter of 2017/2018.
“The largest component, wage and salaries, declined by $15.8 million to $152.7 million, reflecting a combination of deliberate measures taken by the government to rationalize contractual employment arrangements, alongside the impact of retirements,” the report reads.
“Meanwhile, timing-related factors in the payment of overtime to the security forces explained the $3.6 million reduction in allowances.
“Based on the decline in employment complement, the employer’s NIB contribution was reduced by $0.6 million to $7.4 million.”