Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn. (FP)

Government has achieved and surpassed the projected targets for the mid-year period April to September 2019.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, made this disclosure in a Ministerial Statement on Government’s Mid-Year Review Report April – September 2019, on Tuesday evening, in Parliament.

Mr. Straughn said: “Based on the revenue earned to date of $1,454.4 million, the expenditure spent of $1,158.6 million and the projected revenue and expenditure for the period October 2019 to March 2020, Government should also achieve its target of a primary balance of 6.0 of GDP, for the financial year April 2019 to March 2020.”

He noted that total transfers to State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) were $235.5 million compared to $314.3 million for the previous year. He explained that of the $235 million, $183 million was paid to those entities monitored under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation programme.  Of this group, he said, the University of the West Indies and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital received 30 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively.

Mr. Straughn said Government had continued its efforts to reduce transfer to the SOEs through a combination of much stronger oversight, improved reporting, cost reduction and revenue enhancement.   

He added that the SOE sector was undergoing significant reform under the BERT programme, and stressed that the measures implemented would assist Government in addressing the challenges facing this sector.

However, he pointed out that the review still identified financial and structural deficiencies that could increase Government’s exposure to fiscal risk, if not properly managed. 

“It is therefore important that we continue to regularly engage with these enterprises [state owned enterprises] and to provide strong oversight especially in the area of financial reporting,” he stated.

The Minister noted that a number of highlights had been achieved during the period, and listed them as including the proclamation of the Public Finance Management Act.  

According to him, this Act provides Government with a strong legal framework to target areas of deficiencies within the SOEs, such as gaps in accountability, transparency and fiscal prudence.

“A great effort has been made to accelerate the completion of the outstanding Audited Financial Statements, with a majority of these now up to date. This would give Government better assurance with regards to the reliability of the information contained in the financial statements,” he explained.

Mr. Straughn added that a thorough review had been done of the tariff and user fee structures which would assist in addressing the poor cost recovery in the SOE sector.

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