The budget debate for the 2013-2014 financial year which begins April first, takes place next week in the House of Representatives. When the proceedings get underway, the opposition will be presenting its official position to the estimates that were introduced to the House on March first. But before that happens, we have been looking at various aspects of the budget. Tonight, we focus on one of the biggest expenditures in government; the wage bill, which has been ballooning significantly. Government is proposing to spend two hundred and ninety eight million four hundred and seventy thousand dollars on the eight thousand seven hundred and sixty seven permanent and open vote public officers on payroll. But there are an additional number of contract officers that pad the wage bill. According to an official report there are as many as three hundred and thirty-three contract officers, mostly political appointees, who are getting a salary total of fourteen million, six hundred and eighty five thousand dollars. A breakdown by Ministry looks like this. The highest number of contract officers is with the Ministry of Health which employs eighty-four. This is followed by the Ministry of the Attorney General and Ministry of Foreign Affairs with fifty-one contract officers. Coming in at a close third, is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports with fifty, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture has twenty-five persons under contract and the Ministry of Works and Transport has nineteen.
At the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, there is a total of eighteen, both the Ministries of Labour and National Security, have fourteen each. The Office at the Prime Minister weighs in with eleven followed by the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation with ten contract officers. Over at Tourism there are four, at the Ministry of Trade as well as at the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities there are three contract officers to each ministry while at the Ministry of Public Service and Elections and Boundaries there are two. And at the Ministries of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development and Housing, both have one each under contract. Now to go back to the Attorney’s General Ministry, there are ten with the office of Public Prosecution, eleven with the Judiciary office and at the Legislature office there are two. All in all, there are three hundred and thirty-three contract officers who are collecting over four point six million dollars.