SALARIES will eat up a quarter of this year’s $4 billion-plus budget, leaked budget papers obtained by Solomon Star have revealed.
The Government is also ploughing more money into scholarships and rentals this year, other documents have shown.
According to the Summary of Payroll Expenditure, $1.29 billion will be spent on salaries this year, the documents show.
Of this amount, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) topped the table with an allocation of $555.5 million – an increase of $29.6 million over last year’s revised budget estimates.
According to officials, this modest increase reflects the increase in salaries for the number of new teachers joining the teaching service this year.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services follows in second place at $253.5 million – a decrease of $1.6 million over the 2020 revised budget estimates. The fall in salary expenditure is due to a number of reasons.
These include the Ministry of Health and Medical Services projects, including the relocation of the National Referral Hospital being shifted to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet this year.
Police, National Security, and Correctional Services salary expenditure fell by $6.4 million to just $138.7 million this year.
In 2020, the Ministry’s salary expenditure was $145.1 million, according to the revised budget estimates for the year.
It is unclear whether this means there would be no new recruitment this year.
The documents a $2.1 million increase in pensions and gratuities, which could reflect more government workers retiring this year.
Meanwhile, the budget figures also reveal rental costs have shot up by $130.3 million this year, compared to what the government spent on rentals last year. The government spent just $69.1 million on rentals in 2020.
The figures also show government scholarships have more than doubled this year, allocating $250 million for 2021. This is an increase of $124.7 million over last year’s expenditure.
Details of these expenditure items, including salaries, are expected to be announced when Finance Minister Harry Kuma brings down the budget possibly next week.
By Alfred Sasako