PHILIPSBURG–Government has had to fork up NAf. 19.4 million over what it budgeted to cover phone bills over the past five years.
The alarming figures were provided by Finance Minister Ardwell Irion during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday. Irion wants to see the cost go down as a cost-saving measure.
Irion said the government has, for the last few months, been looking at how it can lower its expenditure. “I have said in the past, we are looking at the phone bills and gas bonds. We have also had payments deferred for at least three months and I am proud to say that with support of the Prime Minister [Silveria Jacobs – Ed.], we have finalised the process for the telephones,” he noted.
Irion said in 2015, while the government had budgeted NAf. 1.2 million for phone cost, it booked NAf. 5.5 million, which was NAf. 4.3 million in excess. The trend continued in 2016, when the bills were NAf. 4 million over budget. In 2017, it was over budget by NAf. 4 million, in 2018 by NAf. 3.6 million and in 2019 by NAf. 3.5 million.
“We already see the trend that was taking place in government in the last five years, which is why we thought it was very important to again look at this area in government,” Irion said. “It is a quick win where we can lower our cost. We have done the same with the gas bonds situation.”
A presentation on a new system that will be applied throughout government to lower cost as it relates to gas bonds, was made in the Council of Ministers meeting on Tuesday.