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Imbert: New ministries can cost $400m more
Judging from the cost of different ministries over the 2011 fiscal year, at least $400 million extra will be coming out of the Treasury for the Government’s four new ministries, says Opposition MP Colm Imbert. The four new ministries that came with the Cabinet reshuffle are:
n Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources;
n Ministry of Science and Technology;
n Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration; and
n Ministry of Communications.
Imbert added the smallest ministries last year cost between $50 million and $100 million. Political scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, however, believes there will be no significant expenditure for extra staff, since employees will be transferred from old ministries to the new ones. Imbert, giving a breakdown of the expenditure of a ministry, said: “A ministry is not just about a minister’s salary. There is expenditure for wages and salaries, goods and services, minor equipment, transfers and subsidies, which are recurrent expenditure.
“There is also capital expenditure for development programmes.” A minister’s salary and allowances (counted in wages and salaries) were in excess of $50,000 a month, he said. “That is over $600, 000 a year,” he added. A permanent secretary’s salary is around the same figure, Imbert said. Ministries last year cost from $150 million to “all up by $4 billion” last year, he added.
The smallest, the Ministry of Tobago Development, cost the Treasury $32 million, it was stated. He said: “Of that, $12 million went to salaries and wages and $15 million to goods and services.” Noting the new ministries are “not little,” Imbert estimated the cost at $100 million a new ministry. Commenting on the size of the Cabinet, he said: “This is probably a world record.
“I would be hard-pressed to find another country with our geographical size with so many ministries. “Twenty-eight of the 29 MPs are now ministers. That has to be a record. Add to that the ministers that come from the Senate. There are 40 ministers in all.” Ragoonath felt the new ministries should not have been created as separate entities but could have operated under an umbrella ministry with junior ministers.
The only increase in expenditure, however, would be in paying new ministers and permanent secretaries, he said. He added: “There will be no significant expenditure in staff. With the shift of environment from the Ministry of Housing to the Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources, for instance, staff will simpy be transferred.”
Ragoonath said he was still waiting, though, for a clear demarcation as to what would be done under what ministry. He said: “For instance, I read that Ganga Singh is Minister of Water Resources and the Environment and is in charge of the Water & Sewerage Authority (WASA). “Then I heard Nizam Baksh, Public Utilities Minister, is responsible for WASA.”
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