The Ministry of Environment and Planning — which compromises eight Departments with 321 employees — has been allocated $27.44 million for the upcoming fiscal year, Minister of Environment and Planning Sylvan Richards said.
The Department of Parks will get $10.53 million, Conservation Services $4.85 million, Environmental Protection $4.07 million, the Department of Planning $3.78 million, Land Surveys and Registration $1.75 million, the Ministry Headquarters $1.11 million, Land Valuation $831,892 and Sustainable Development $500,482
The Minister said the Capital Budget has been enhanced, and the primary project for in the coming year will be the replacement of the roof at the Aquarium, with $2.2 million allocated for this purpose.
“One of the tough decisions that we had to make required us to eliminate the grant from the Department of Conservation Services to the Bermuda Zoological Society in support of the BZS’s very popular Education programmes,” said Minister Richards.
“We regret this sacrifice but under our current budget constraints, we do not have any other option. Similarly, our grants to the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences will remain at a level that barely allows us to maintain the Marine Environment Programme and the Air Quality programme that they manage on our behalf.”
Minister Richards’ full statement follows below:
The Ministry of Environment and Planning has been allocated twenty seven million, four hundred forty-six thousand, five hundred and eighty-six dollars ($27,446,586).
The Ministry is comprised of eight Departments, with three hundred and twenty-one (321) employees. The allocation by Department is as follows:
- Department of Parks $10,536,611
- Conservation Services $4,851,011
- Environmental Protection $4,073,788
- Department of Planning $3,781,698
- Land Surveys and Registration $1,752,637
- Ministry Headquarters $1,118,467
- Land Valuation $831,892
- Sustainable Development $500,482
The Departments of the Ministry are linked together by our Mission Statement, which reads
”We Lead Bermuda towards Sustainability by Protecting our Natural and Built Environment”
The biggest adjustments in our budget when compared to the current budget are seen in the Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation Services.
In our efforts to consolidate the management of Agriculture in Bermuda, the Marketing Centre, along with its funding of approximately six hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($650,000) and revenue of four hundred and twenty thousand dollars ($420,000), has been moved from Conservation Services to Environmental Protection.
Now, the full responsibility falls under one Department, rather than two. This will result in clarity for stakeholders and efficiencies in management.
Ministry Headquarters also shows an increase, which is accounted for by the movement of two posts from the Department of Planning to Ministry Headquarters in order to create a centralized accounting and administration unit to serve the entire Ministry.
We have a number of small Departments, and in order to ensure the best use of our limited resources, we determined that it would be more efficient for us to consolidate these support services rather than duplicate the effort across small Departments. This will enable consistency in our financial management and will allow the technical officers to focus on the functions they do best.
Additionally, you will note that our Capital Budget has been enhanced. The primary project for us in the coming year will be the replacement of the roof at the Aquarium.
The main building at the complex is rather old, and it is important that we take steps now to secure the integrity of the roof before the problems we have detected worsen. We wish to ensure that the works do not severely impact the operation of Bermuda’s most visited attraction. Two million, two hundred thousand dollars has been allocated for this purpose.
We recognize the financial challenges facing Bermuda, and the Government in particular. In order to right the ship, tough decisions must be made. These decisions will not always be popular. But too much is at stake. Our Ministry, with an allocation smaller than many others, has done its part to reduce its expenditure.
One of the tough decisions that we had to make required us to eliminate the grant from the Department of Conservation Services to the Bermuda Zoological Society in support of the BZS’s very popular Education programmes.
We regret this sacrifice but under our current budget constraints, we do not have any other option. Similarly, our grants to the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences will remain at a level that barely allows us to maintain the Marine Environment Programme and the Air Quality programme that they manage on our behalf.
Essentially, the Departments of the Ministry will only provide the basic mandated services. For example, eighty-one percent of our allocation is dedicated to salaries and wages. That only leaves nineteen percent to pay rent, purchase paper, keep the lights on and other operational expenses.
As indicated by the Minister of Finance, the responsibility for addressing our fiscal situation is a shared one. We will take full responsibility for our part, while continuing to Lead Bermuda Towards Sustainability by Protecting our Natural and Built Environment.