The government has increased by 11 percent to $250 million its provision for capital expenditure in the 2008/2009 budget; a signal of its continued commitment to modernizing and expanding the nation’s infrastructure, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham announced.

The Prime Minister outlined allocations and highlighted infrastructural works planned for the fiscal period during his presentation of the government’s budget communication to the House of Assembly.

Sums allocated to Ministries and Departments under the Capital Budget include principally: The Department of Public Works, $ 87 million; Ministry of Education, $31 million; The Royal Bahamas Police Force, nearly $5 million; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force some $3 million and Department of Environmental Health Services over $6 million.

“I am pleased to advise that progress on the redevelopment of the Lynden Pindling International Airport is on course,” Mr. Ingraham said. “The $400 million dollar project will provide for the construction of a new US Departure Terminal, a new International Departures Terminal and a new Domestic Terminal.”

The first phase of the construction costing some $86 million will commence during this budget period with the start up of construction of the US Departure Terminal.

The Prime Minister advised that some 25% of the design work for the new terminal will be undertaken by Bahamian architects and engineers.

“I also advise of plans underway to cause to be constructed a 60,000 square foot plus government office complex in New Providence,” Mr. Ingraham told parliamentarians. “The complex will properly and appropriately accommodate a number of Government agencies.”

A similarly sized office complex will be constructed in Freeport, Grand Bahama where land has already been identified to accommodate Customs, Immigration, Labour and the Passport Offices.

A third government office complex is to be constructed in Central Abaco to provide suitable office accommodation for government administrative agencies on the island.

“Work will resume on the magistrates’ court complex on Nassau Street,” the Prime Minister said. “We will also undertake and complete another interrupted refurbishment project at the former City Market Complex on Market Street. That complex is to accommodate the offices of the Registrar General and Business Licence Unit and Valuation Unit. This is known as ‘priming the pump’.”

The government, he added, will initiate work for the construction of a new Judicial Complex to accommodate the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

The 2008/2009 budget also anticipates the commencement of major works in Nassau Harbour including dredging to permit the harbour to accommodate the largest cruise ships coming on stream this and next year. Works are scheduled to commence before the end of the calendar year.

“The dredge material will be used to create a boardwalk extending from Prince George Wharf eastward to Armstrong Street creating opportunities for the development of a promenade bounded by restaurants, specialty stores and entertainment establishments,” Mr. Ingraham noted.

“It is also expected that the dredging of the harbour will provide sufficient material to facilitate the expansion of Arawak Cay westward, or alternatively the creation of a second artificial island connected to the mainland by a bridge or causeway, to accommodate the relocated commercial port, which will be in the Arawak Cay area.”

In a related development, an inland depot will be developed to receive for storage cargo off-loaded at Arawak Cay and moved inland overnight, thereby avoiding congestion now associated with cargo movement during peak traffic hours.

Under the budget item of Sundry Capital Expenditure meantime, payments are made to Bahamasair, the Broadcasting Corporation, the Water and Sewerage Corporation and a
number of other government entities. Eighty million dollars ($80 million) is allocated for this item.

“I do want to point out that in the 2008/2009 budget we are providing a higher level of transparency with respect to subvention to government agencies than has ever been done before,” Mr. Ingraham said.

“In this budget, we allocate $28 million to Bahamasair. We fully expect any shortfall in Bahamasair’s financial needs to be met by its business operations. We don’t expect them to come back.”

The budget provides $19 million to the Water and Sewerage Corporation, $3 million for the installation of potable water for Green Turtle Cay, Abaco and some $11.7 million for the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas.