The Island Council of the Public Entity Saba passed the multi-annual budget of 2016 – 2019 during its meeting on Tuesday, September 21st. The total amount for the budget for 2016 is $10,576,850, only $156,000 more than the budget of 2015. Once a year, the Island Council has to approve the figures for the next four years.
Once again the figures of the budget were estimated conservatively. Seeing that there is not clarity as yet to future indexations these have not been included. Balancing the budget was difficult due to the yearly increase in salaries and increase in costs of resources and materials during the last year. Also with the aid of special grants a lot of investments and improvements were made over the year however the free allowance was not adjusted to include maintenance costs for these investments. Due to these budgetary constraints the government will have to continue to monitor cash flow very carefully.
When compared to the multi-year budget 2015-2018, some cuts were necessary in order to balance the budget. As was the case with the 2015 budget, this is again a skeleton budget as it allows for very little or almost no policy or substantial investments which can be financed through the island finances.
In the coming years the policy focus will be mainly on working together with the Dutch government on the implementation and development of the Multiannual Caribbean Netherlands program and the integrated development plan which the PE has in mind for the coming years. A number of projects have already been started in 2014 and will be finalized in the period 2015-2019.
These are to include the following projects: The renovation of the airport, the project for the improvement of the school buildings, the parking lot and traffic flow in the Windwardside, and together with Saba Electric Company, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ) and the European Union, the relocation of the power plant and the development of cheaper green energy.
Other projects include: the implementation and management of a water system whereby the quality of the drinking water on Saba is improved and also a system for the entrapment and storage of rainwater. Cooperation with EZ for the further development of projects in the area of the sustainability of nature, including the reduction of the population of stray goats and the development of small-scale agriculture. Also the overdue maintenance of the road to Fort Bay and the overdue maintenance to the piers and quays of the harbor and restoring the depth of the basin by means of dredging.
A special grant from the Dutch Department of Health, Well-being and Sport (VWS) the public health sector will be reorganized during the coming years with special attention for the preventive (youth) care.
In addition to these policy areas, there are also some investments listed. These include investments into ICT Hardware, a new school bus, infrastructure, road safety and the repaving of the Fort Bay Road.
An Educational development plan was developed in the first half of 2015 and agreed upon by the Executive Council for the upgrading and training of all civil servants. Project money for the Education plan was secured by BZK during the 2015 CN week. The intention is to start the Education Plan in 2016.
Press release GIS Saba