On Monday 22 February the Standing Finance Committee sittings came to an end, making way for the budget to be debated soon. The end of the deliberations was mentioned by Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith who also gave a brief report on how the 2016 sittings went.
Hon. Smith said that the deliberations took two weeks and during that time all 13 members of the House of Assembly went through the Budget for 2016 with a fine tooth comb. Hon. Smith said that during the sittings the legislators called in Accounting Officers to discuss Ministries/Departmental plans.
“The next stage is the budget debate which will take place within the next two weeks following which we expect its approval,” Hon. Smith announced.
The 2016 budget with estimates predicting revenues in the region of $330,846,500.00 – a sum that is notably larger than the annual revenues of the past years – was presented by on 8 February by Premier Smith. Hon. Smith also announced recurrent expenditure in the region of $286,512,400.
For 2016, Minister for Finance disclosed that there will be a recurrent surplus of $29,334,000, and he also mentioned that Government expected to meet debt service obligations on its existing loans to the tune of $12,484,000.
Premier Smith said that this year his government hopes to contribute $15,000,000 to the Reserve Fund, bringing it to $64,000,000, and in the process meet its requirement under the Protocols for Effective Financial Management by the end of the 2017 financial year.
The BVI Leader announced that the projected revenues for 2016 will marginally cover expenditure, and he explained that this “mere cursory look at the Territory’s Medium Term Fiscal Plan demonstrates that this is as a result of a growing society with growing demands.
Hon. Smith also announced that government has decided that there will be an increase in taxes and fees: “In view of the relative levels of taxes and fees that we now pay, some of which have remained at the same levels for the last several decades, we have, after much contemplation and assessment, decided to augment fees and taxes in 2016,” Hon. Smith said.
“To be clear, these figures represent an additional intake that is forecast over what we would have otherwise received without the revenue measures,” the Premier added.