BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 13TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – The 2017 Estimates Committee Meetings are underway this week (yesterday, Wednesday, October 12th to Friday, October 14th) in order to finalize the programmes and projects that the Federal Government will be implementing in the new financial year, which starts in January and ends in December.

The Budget planning meetings being conducted at the Ministry of Finance will see Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is the Minister of Finance, as well as his Cabinet of Ministers and the Cabinet Secretary, Mrs. Josephine Huggins, interact with government officials and staff, such as Mrs. Hilary Hazel, Financial Secretary; Mr. Calvin Edwards, Deputy Financial Secretary; Mrs. Sylvia Gumbs, Deputy Financial Secretary; Ms. Beverly Harris, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development; Ms. Lavern Queeley, Director of Economic Affairs and PSIP (Public Sector Investment Programme); Mrs. Versilie Francis, Acting Director of Fiscal Affairs and Policy; Ms. Sherelle Hobson, Senior Budget Analyst, and Ms. Ashmaine Allers, Budget Analyst.

Interactions will focus on considering the budgetary requirements of each Ministry, and allocating and prioritizing government spending in advance of the budget presentation and finalization in the Parliament.

At yesterday’s Opening Session of the 2017 Estimates Committee Meetings, Prime Minister Harris identified the top priority.

“It is proposed that this budget be a balanced budget.  We are not going into deficit,” Dr. Harris said yesterday morning, echoing the sentiment that he voiced last year during the lead-up to the passage of the Appropriation (2016) Bill, 2015 in the National Assembly on December 21st, 2015.

Last December, Prime Minister Harris declared in the Parliament that the 2016 Budget would be a surplus one that was projected to realize an overall surplus of $77.6 million and a primary surplus of $106.7 million.

Seven months later at his July 27th press conference, the Honourable Prime Minister revealed that preliminary data for the first half of 2016 showed the overall and primary surpluses beating the forecasts.  “Preliminary data for the period January to June 2016 indicate that the fiscal operations of the Federal Government have resulted in a recurrent account surplus of $92 million and an overall surplus of $100.2 million and a primary surplus of $113 million.  The recurrent account surplus surpassed the estimates by $46.8 million or 103.6 percent, and the overall and primary surpluses exceeded their 2016 targets by $78 million and $75 million respectively,” Dr. Harris said.

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