Yesterday [June 13] in the Senate — in response to parliamentary questions from OBA Senator Michael Fahy — Junior Finance Minister David Burt said that 36,000 pamphlets were produced at a cost of approximately $14,850.
The pamphlets, which cover aspects of the Bermuda budget, had come under fire earlier this month, with OBA MP Mark Pettingill saying the brochures are “electioneering campaign document that should be paid for by the PLP in their campaign to be Government again.”
Senator Burt said the distribution process started in March 2012 with the pamphlets being distributed at the various Open Budget Town Hall Budget Meetings, and excess pamphlets were distributed to the post offices where some were mailed to residents.
Speaking after the Senate, Senator Fahy said, “We find it ironic that although the PLP Government touts itself as being transparent it took PQ’s to find out the costs to the taxpayers of the pamphlets. When the press asked about the costs no comment was received. In our view these pamphlets are electioneering documents by stealth.”
The full Parliamentary Questions and Answers are below:
Q1. Would the Junior Minister please provide the Senate with details of Government’s recent distribution of informational pamphlets on Funding Provisions in the 2012/2013 Budget, including the total number of pamphlets to be distributed to households in Bermuda, the number of pamphlets to be distributed by each Ministry, and the specific postal zones to which the pamphlets are being distributed?
In December of 2011, the Ministry of Finance released the Pre-Budget Report. In that report the Government committed to joining the Open Budget Initiative. Joining the Open Budget Initiative and giving a commitment to budget transparency is yet another step towards better governance in Bermuda.
One of the commitments which was made on page 30 of the pre-Budget Report is as follows:
Citizen’s Budget: A Citizen’s Budget is a nontechnical presentation that “can take many forms but its distinguishing feature is that it is designed to reach and be understood by as large a segment of the population as possible”. A citizen’s budget is a simplified summary of the budget designed to facilitate discussion. In 2005 and 2006 the Government issued a guide to the budget. The Government will re-introduce this document with the 2012-13 budget statement.
It is important to note that the distribution process started in March 2012 with the pamphlets being distributed at the various Open Budget Town Hall Budget Meetings. The Department of Communication and Information Services (DCI) was asked to create pamphlets that identify the overall budget for each government Ministry. The design and layout was done by DCI Creative Services team. The pamphlets were printed by Island Press.
There were 36,000 pamphlets produced. Please see below the breakdown of the number of pamphlets produced:
- Bermuda Government 2012/2013 Budget (pamphlets) – 4000 copies
- Ministry of Health – 4,000 copies
- Ministry of Tourism and Business Development – 4,000 copies
- Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry – 4, 000 copies
- All other Ministries – 2,000 each
Excess pamphlets were distributed to the post offices where some were mailed to residents. There is no specific breakdown by postal code available. The important point, as per the open budget initiative, was to share the information with as many citizens as possible in a cost effective manner.
Q2. Would the Junior Minister please provide the Senate with details as to the total costs incurred by the Government for designing, printing and distributing the said pamphlets?
The 36,000 pamphlets were produced at a cost of approximately $14,850.
Q3. Would the Junior Minister please inform the Senate as to the Cost Centre(s) and line item(s) in Government’s 2012/2013 Approved Estimates from which the costs for the pamphlets are to be funded?
The cost for the pamphlets is to be funded from object code 5810. The cost of pamphlets will be prorated between all Ministries. The total budget provision for printing in the 2012/13 approved estimates is $2.1 Million.
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