30 April 2007

Budget Fibre Questions

Listed in the Estimates for Innovation, Trade and Rural Development (InTRD), is a $10 million line item to "provide for the purchase of fibre optic strands forming part of a new, fully redundant fibre optic telecommunications link along two diverse routes which will connect with national carriers in mainland Canada."

The original estimate for this project was $15 million "over the next two fiscal years", so this line item raises a few questions:

1. Has the amount been reduced to $10 million from the original $15 million? If so why? One of the points raised in the consultant's assessment for this project was that price quoted for the quantity of fibre-optic cable didn't seem to mesh with current market prices.

The consultant recommended increasing the amount of fibre. Buuuuut, the provincial government might have elected to reduce the quantity or bring the price paid in line with the quantity purchased. At the same time they might have opted to increase the quantity of fibre-optic cable being purchased.

2. Has the amount been raised so that the investment will be $10 million this year and an unknown amount next year?

3. Will there be a $5.0 million appropriation next year? It's likely the project is still on track with the original estimate, with two-thirds being committed the first year and the remainder in the last year.