Capital projects, purpose, priorities, financing, timetable, over costs, and delivery have been and are a headache for most governments in the world and under the most diverse systems. And Falklands, with ample funds and surplus budgets. could be no exception, thus progress on how capital projects are reported publicly was discussed in the Standing Finance Committee last week.
Penguin News reports that MLA Mark Pollard highlighted that the publicly published spreadsheet in SFC agendas and minutes does not provide sufficient detail for members of the public to understand the full narrative on progress, such as whether projects are operating on time, to budget, and other similar details.
MLA Pollard pointed out a number of projects which could be seen to be over or under-budget without the context provided in the meetings.
The Financial Secretary stated the reports are “on a journey of slow continuous improvement” and that the Treasury was not a program management office and could only collate the information received by other departments.
It was recognised, however, that more could be done to make the progress of capital projects more publicly visible.
One capital project specifically discussed was housing maintenance, as MLA Pollard queried when the allocated funds had last been used in full.
The Financial Secretary clarified there had been historic under spend which had “snowballed” over the years and as carry-forward had taken place it created a “bow-wave of budget” which could never be attainably spent.
This was remedied partly by stricter carry-forward processes in this most recent budget.
The Financial Secretary clarified also that work was underway with departments to manage costs and establish a document to lay out scoping works and assist in the planning across departments.
The latest figures from the Retail Price Index (RPI) were also discussed.
Economist Andy Wu said inflation was on the rise again after a “moderation in the RPI inflation readings during the first quarter.” It was added there had been some surprise at the “stubbornly persistent” high rate of inflation.
The main contributors to the 9.5% annual inflation were fuel and power (5.3%) and food and non-alcoholic beverages (2.7%).
The Economist noted that inflation could potentially stay higher for longer than was previous expected, but still felt that inflation had reached something of a “peak” and would gradually decrease.