Published On: Sat, Mar 9th, 2024

Draft 2024 budget shows modest surplus

PHILIPSBURG — The draft 2024 budget mentions 572.2 million guilders ($319.7 million) in expenditures and 574.8 million ($321.1 million) in revenue – a modest surplus of around 2 million ($1.1 million).

The budget for the parliament is 7.3 million guilders ($4.1 million), an increase of 12.7 percent. Remarkable are the 23 percent increase for travel expenditures to just above one million and the increase of representation costs from 100,000 to 150,000 guilders (from $55,866 to $83,799). The budget contains 1.8 million ($1 million) in pensions for former politicians.

The total costs for the Ministry of General Affairs are 5.1 million guilders ($2,849,000). Expenditures for travel and accommodation went up from 15,000 guilders in 2023 to 60,000 (from $8,380 to $33,520) this year. Representation costs also increased sharply, from 10,250 to 50,000 guilders (from $5,726 to $27,933).

The budget contains an apparent mistake because in its projections of revenue over the next four years, its mentions 564 ($315 million) instead of the earlier mentioned 574 million for 2024 and 589 million ($329 million) for 2027 – an increase of 4.4 percent. Expenditures are expected to increase by 4.1 percent from 562 million ($33,966,480) in 2024 to 585 million ($326,815,642) in 2027.

The government does not expect to encounter any budget deficits over the next couple of years. It projects surpluses of 2 million guilders ($1.1 million) in 2024 and 2025 and of 4 million ($2.2 million) in the two years after that.

Expenditures for personnel will go up from 239 million ($133,519,553) this year to 255 million guilders (($142,458,100) in 2027, an increase of 6.7 percent. The expenditures for social programs are more modest: they will go up from 31 to 35 million guilders (from $17.3 to $19.5 million).

Tax revenue is expected to increase to 445 million guilders ($248.5 million) this year, compared to the (projected) income of 422 million ($235.7 million) in 2023.

The Ministry of Justice, with 760 employees, has budgeted 44.5 million guilders ($24.8 million) for retroactive payments to active and inactive personnel. The payments will be made in installments over a period of ten years.

The ministry is struggling with a lack of personnel. Most of the vacancies are at the police force (9), immigration and border control (10) and the prison and house of detention (11). There are however also vacancies at for instance the National Detectives (4), Customs (6) and the Court of Guardianship (3). The total number of vacancies at the ministry is 53.

The ministry has a contract with telecom provider TelEm for CCTV-services. At 239,000 guilders ($133,519) a year, the contract is worth more than 3.5 million guilders ($1.95 million). The ministry has outstanding invoices with TelEm totaling more than 1.1 million guilders ($614,525) for the period 2019-2023.

The Ministry of Education is also struggling with a lack of personnel. While the formation is 406 fulltime equivalents (ftes), there are just 278 on the payroll – an understaffing of 33 percent. There are 128 vacancies, but 99 of them are not budgeted. Staffing at the department of education is low, at 39 percent and at the department of youth it is even lower: 25 percent.

Remarkable: the ministry had budgeted 70,000 guilders ($39,106) for the production of a national anthem.