BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 16, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – In what has been described as a time-consuming but necessary exercise of accountability, Ministries and their related departments, as well as the Office of the Governor-General and the Director of Audit had their opportunities to impact upon the 2018 Draft Budget Estimates over the period Monday, 9th – to Thursday, 12th October, 2017, at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room.
The Budget Estimates Committee Meeting, which is a meeting of the Federal Cabinet, was chaired by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris. During the 4-day process, the Cabinet heard presentations about the work of all ministries, offices and departments of Government.
Speaking with the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, Deputy Financial Secretary, Mr. Calvin Edwards described the meetings of the 2018 Budget Estimates Committee as fruitful, as it provided the relevant authorities with a comprehensive assessment of the work of the various ministries and government departments during the 2017 financial year.
Mr. Edwards further described the annual Budget Estimates Committee Meeting as a critical exercise in the life of the Government, adding, “The budget is the mechanism by which things are done. So the S.E.L.F programme, your roads, the health system, education [and] social development where you get your uniforms and so on, those are things that are necessary to improve the lives of people and so you have to make sure that the resources are there in order to bring help and assistance to people.”
After four days of high-level discussions, further refinements are to be made by each of the line ministries based on additional research and re-examination of their priorities.
Deputy Financial Secretary Edwards noted that, “Budgeting is an exercise where you have more demands than the money you have, and so prioritization has to be done. Then a decision will be taken as to which of the programmes or activities presented are most critical so as to provide the necessary resources to make them effective in terms of implementation.”
Following this process of re-examination, the Ministry of Finance is expected to fine-tune the 2018 Budget Estimates before the Minister of Finance and the Federal Cabinet review them further.
The final exercise will be the preparation of draft estimates and the Budget Address for presentation by Prime Minister Harris, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, for final action to be taken by the Federal Parliament.