THE BOTTOM- The Island Council on December 15 has approved the 2023-2026 multi-annual budget of the Public Entity Saba. The budget for 2023 totals US $17.5 million, which represents an increase of $4.5 million in comparison to 2022.
The revenues consist of the free allowance of $16.1 million and $1 million local levies. The expenditures consist of $10.2 million in personnel cost, subsidies and income transfers $1.7 million and $5.7 million in other expenditures. The biggest impact for the multi-annual budget was the signing of the Saba Package 2.0 in June 2022.
Government’s liquidity position has improved significantly with the additional means and the positive balance at the end of 2021, stated Finance Commissioner Bruce Zagers in his presentation to the Central Committee two days before the budget was adopted.
“The increase we have seen in the free allowance has been a significant achievement for this government. With the additional free allowance, government has been able to create opportunities for civil servants, improve public services and make investments in the organization itself,” said Zagers.
One of the most significant changes that the Saba government implemented was to implement the $1,600 social minimum all full-time civil servants retroactively to January 2022. Saba is the only government to have taken this step which was financially possible because of the higher free allowance. In January 2023, civil servants’ salaries will go up by 4.75% gross.
Zagers said that in discussions with the Netherlands to evaluate the free allowance, the Saba government will stress that the salaries of government workers need to reflect the high cost of living. “Although we have made significant progress, we are not there yet, and this must be included as a priority during the evaluation of the free allowance,” said Zagers.