Providenciales, 02 Mar 2015 – The Turks and Caicos and UK governments have agreed the Territory’s 2015-16 budget, it was announced today, Monday, 2 March 2015.
The budgeted expenditure of US$224.7m is a 9% increase on the previous year, and proposes tax cuts, significant investment in education and infrastructure as well as delivering a surplus of $13.4m.
Some of the key features of the proposed budget include:
• a 50% reduction in the cost of business licenses in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)
• the removal of the 7.5% Freight Insurance Tax which is applied to nearly all landed goods that are imported to the Islands
• an additional four staff to expedite the speedier processing of work permits
• an additional $1m for scholarships for Islanders, including $250,000 to help civil servants complete personal and professional development activities
• improved terms and conditions for public sector workers with the implementation of the pay and grading review
• the accelerated $2m completion of the new Long Bay Hills High School
The top ten areas of spending in the budget are (and increase/decrease over 2014/15 budget):
1. $60.7m (3.4% increase) for the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services
2. $33.2m (27% increase) for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Library Services. In addition to the scholarship funding, an additional $500,000 has been allocated to the TCI Community College, and $250,000 for upgrading public sporting facilities
3. $21.8m (32.7% increase) for the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, including $2.9m for the completion of the Caicos Causeway and $1.2m for road repairs and improvements
4. $20.9m (0.8%) for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force
5. $17.3m (-10.3% decrease) for the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment
6. $9.6m (16.2%% increase) for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation and Communications, including an allocation for a new juvenile detention centre
7. $9m (18.1% increase) for the Attorney General’s Chambers
8. $7.8m (15.1% increase) for the Ministry of Border Control and Labour
9. $7m (28.1% increase) for the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage and Culture
10. $6.7m (-19% decrease) for the Judiciary
The remainder of the budget consists of statutory charges, including pension and gratuities, contingency fund and debt servicing ($16m), the Governor’s Office ($4m), House of Assembly ($2.8m), the Premier’s Office ($2.3m), the Director of Public Prosecutions ($2.3m), the Deputy Governor’s Office ($2.2m) and other costs, such as the constitutional and statutory bodies.
“This budget has been designed to support further growth in the TCI,” said Minister of Finance Washington Missick. “As an example, we are proposing to allow the airport and ports authorities to retain their surpluses, rather than paying them to government, so that they can invest them in upgrading South Caicos Airport and the South Dock harbour facility in Providenciales, respectively.
“These ambitious measures have only been made possible by my government’s continued fiscal prudence. We have set a course that sees us continue to reduce our debt obligations, while also looking for opportunities to make a real difference in people’s lives.”
Although approved in principle by UK Ministers, the TCI budget is still a proposal which will be scrutinised by the House of Assembly’s Appropriation Committee in the next few weeks, before being fully debated by elected representatives before the end of March 2015.