The Bottom, Saba- The Island Council on Wednesday, November 13 adopted the 2020-2023 budget of the Public Entity Saba. The lack of structural funding last week was reason for the Island Council to stage a walk out, but today the budget was approved by Saba’s parliament, albeit rather reluctantly.
Finance Commissioner Bruce Zagers explained in his presentation at the start of the meetingthat the multi-annual draft budget was barely balanced.
Calling it a “skeletal budget,” the Commissioner noted that the 2020 budget stood at US $12,379,257, a mere US $218,000 higher than the 2019 budget, whereas the responsibilities of the Public Entity Saba, the overall general operating costs and the cost of maintenance have increased. “The draft budget as is can only meet the legal financial obligations of the day-to-day running of government. It barely allows for government to function.”
Free allowance too low
Zagers said that the Saba Government always made it a priority to continue improving financial management, but given the current circumstances it was imminent that government would no longer be able to honor its legal responsibilities and that deficits could be expected. “Ultimately, government’s financial health will not only be tested but will be at great risk of regress.” The free allowance (‘vrije uitkering’) from the Dutch Government of US $9,770,710, which basically has remained the same since 2012, is simply too low and the part of the budget that depends on incidental funding is too big.