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Imbert: PP govt spent $66b and counting...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Four ministries have so far reported unpaid bills from the past PP’s tenure totalling $2.1 billion, which together with other figures would take its last 2015 Budget expenditure to $66 billion, Finance Minister Colm Imbert says.

“The (PP) government spent about $66 billion and we’re still counting as the $2.1 billion is only from four ministries, so who knows where this will reach in the final count,” Imbert added in the Senate, yesterday.

Imbert detailed the situation in response to a challenge by UNC Senator Wade Mark to give the final expenditure for the last PP budget. Both speakers were participating in a debate on a Standing Finance Committee report closing the 2015 accounts including shifting $200 million in savings from the Energy Ministry to Works for the Pt Fortin Highway and associated issues.

Mark, accusing the PNM of misrepresenting the PP’s performance, said despite the PNM’s “ramblings and negative insinuations” concerning the economy the report of shifting savings of $200 million from the Energy Ministry to Works showed the PP had managed prudently, frugally and remained within the 2015 Budget allocation amid the economic and financial situation and still got projects done.

He said while the PNM had accused the PP of waste and mismanagement, the reality was otherwise. Projecting there had been savings of between $3 billion and $5 billion from the last $60 billion budget, Mark called for Imbert to give the final expenditure figure.

Mark said the PP’s projects were lost by re-engineering by the finance minister. “What a con job! Talk about square pegs in round holes! 

The minister’s job is a tall order, you need someone who’s up to the task. The PNM has short-changed the public with this minister.”

Replying, Imbert said the last 2015 unbudgeted expenditure was $59 billion, not $55 billion as Mark believed. Imbert said there had been a lot of off-budget expenditure incoming, including bills not paid for 2015. He said the reports totalling $2.1 billion from the four ministries would take the 2015 budget to $61 billion. 

Also, Imbert said, the PP “maxed out” the Central Bank overdraft, told state agencies to borrow ($4.7 billion) and there had also been borrowing by HDC ($750 million), Udecott ($1.2 billion), Nidco ($1.5 billion), EFCL ($285 million), EMBD ($400 million and PTSC ($57 million). “All of this would take the budget to about $66 billion.”