Members of the Legislative Assembly Friday approved an $862.4 million budget for government over the next 18 months.
The new budget, which begins July 1, does not have any new taxes or fees. It does include new bonus pay for the civil service, more money for the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, and an extra $4.2 million for public education.
“The bill was passed without any amendments,” Finance Minister Marco Archer told the Legislative Assembly Friday, tabling the new budget for the next 18 months. The budget next goes to the governor for approval and has to be gazetted by the end of the month.
“The budget process takes approximately 5-6 months and the Finance Ministry staff pretty much work around the clock the week before the budget is delivered to LA,” Mr. Archer said over the weekend.
“I am pleased that I can get back to dealing with other constituency matters now that the budget is passed. It is really difficult to deal efficiently with other matters while chairing Finance Committee,” he added.
Over the next year and a half, core government expects to bring in more than $908 million and have a $46 million surplus.
The Legislative Assembly this year decided to change its fiscal year to match the calendar year, and the new budget will reset the schedule and carry government through the end of 2017.
The budget continues five economic stimulus programs, which include retaining reduced import duties for retailers, the construction sector and on diesel fuel for the Caribbean Utilities Company power plant. The budget also continues discounts on trade and business license fees and incentives for construction and stamp duties on Cayman Brac.
Statutory authorities and government companies are budgeted to get more than $150 million over the next 18 months. The Health Services Authority has almost $45 million in the budget, primarily for indigent care and for people without suitable insurance.
Government also set aside almost $43 million for health insurance for civil service retirees, seamen and veterans. Cayman Airways will receive more than $24 million in subsidies for the next year and a half, covering the national airline’s budget shortfall.
Government also plans to spend almost $16 million on local and overseas scholarships, $11.7 million on welfare payments and vouchers, $9 million in direct payments to seamen, and another $2.3 million for employment initiatives.
The budget includes more than $103 million in investments in capital projects without new borrowing. The projects include almost $8 million for the development of the new John Gray High School, almost $7 million for George Town revitalization and $6 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to buy land for environmental conservation.
Government also plans to spend more than $2.5 million on a new long-term residential mental health facility, $6.5 million for a new solid waste facility, $1.5 million for a household recycling center, and more than $3 million on road upgrades.