Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne on Thursday announced a $1.4 Billion dollar budget with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology receiving the highest budgetary allocation in the amount of $143.1 million.
Prime Minister Browne in his budget highlighted his government’s commitment to improving all levels and modalities of education in Antigua and Barbuda which he said that is a platform for high levels of economic growth.
This budget provides for an overall resource requirement of $1.4 billion. This represents a decrease of 18%, or approximately $300 million, when compared to total estimates for 2020. This reduction is not due to the government’s reduction in service delivery, but an adoption of more efficient measures of service delivery. The budgetary and fiscal position points to an overall deficit of 3.4 per cent of GDP or $133.7 million, and a primary deficit of 0.8 per cent of GDP or $30.5 million.
The country’s leader announced that his government expects revenue to improve gradually over 2020’s. He said that Recurrent Revenue is estimated at $872.5 million for 2021, which is a 17% increase over the $745.8 million generated in 2020. The components of recurrent revenue are Indirect Tax Revenue – $604.2 million; Direct Tax Revenue – $98.5 million and Non-Tax Revenue – $169.0 million
PM Browne said that the Customs and Excise Division and the Inland Revenue Department are tasked with the all-important responsibility of delivering this revenue performance. The amount budgeted for capital receipts is $7 million, while grant funding for Fiscal Year 2021 is budgeted at $82.1 million.
The components of recurrent expenditure are:
Wages and Salaries – $402.8 million
Transfers and Grants – $154.4 million
Pensions and Gratuities – $70.9 million
Goods and Services – $157.9 million
Interest Payments – $103.2 million
Statutory Contributions – $39.0 million
Government’s Capital Budget for 2021 is $167.2 million, which is a 62% increase over the $103.3 million spent on capital projects in 2020.
Prime Minister Browne said that the increase in capital spending is part of Government’s strategy to promote economic activity while the country awaits a rebound in the tourism sector.
He said that spending on road works will amount to $31.9 million in 2021 and $43 million has been allocated for major repairs and maintenance to government buildings and to improve climate resilience of critical government infrastructure.