Saba Island Council Passes 2016 Budget

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.

Members of the Island and Executive Councils during the budget meeting on Tuesday (Photo GIS Saba)
Members of the Island and Executive Councils during the budget meeting on Tuesday
(Photo GIS Saba)

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.

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One comment

  1. Voting Decision Justified

    On Tuesday, September 22, 2015 the Island Council of Saba held its 2nd Island Council meeting for the public with an emphasis on the Multi Year Budget 2016-2019 for the Public Entity of Saba. Prior to the meeting there was a Central Committee meeting on Thursday, September 17, 2015, which was an opportunity for the Executive Council to update the Island Council and community about new developments and changes in the governmental affairs. During the discussion period various members of the Island Council requested information, updates and clarification from the Executive Council. It is a prime opportunity to be briefed about the current status of numerous developments on the island.

    I requested a number of questions for further clarity and information including budgetary items. During the campaign period I along with the Saba Labour Party members, advocated for transparency and better communication between members of government. I have been entrusted with the privilege to represent the people and ensure that the community is informed as much as possible with the affairs of their country. I requested to obtain information however due to the answer not being able to be answered during the Central Committee meeting I was told I would receive the responses. A follow-up was sent to obtain the information, however the response received was not satisfactory. As stated before I have to be transparent and understand the information received in order to vote honestly and being fully aware of the details presented prior to making a decision.

    At the Island Council meeting when the members had to vote for the budget agreeing to have had all their questions and concerns clarified prior to voting, I did not. Community members of Saba to do be dismayed that I was the only member to vote against the budget, but focus on the point that you needed clarification to your questions about your financial affairs and did not receive a sufficient response. Prior to submitting my vote against the budget, I expressed that I am in agreement with a significant number of items on the budget and encourage growth and progress for our beloved island. Voting with doubt and uncertainty is an unjustifiable act. As stated before transparency and accountability are what I stood for and has led to this explanation of my voting decision.

    Thank You,
    Ms. Monique Wilson
    Island Council Member
    Saba

    https://soundcloud.com/sabaradio/icsep22monique

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