In Jamaica, a budget to repay debt
KINGSTON, Jamaica, February 20, 2015 (AMG) — The Government of Jamaica has tabled a JMD$ 641.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2015/2016: 20.5% of which will go towards repaying the island’s international debt interest.
The estimates represent a JMD$ 102 billion increase in Government’s projected spend over the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.
Speaking in Parliament, Minister Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Philips, yesterday revealed that the estimates comprised JMD$ 432.6 billion in recurrent expenditure and JMD$209 billion in combined Capital A and B expenditures on government and externally-financed projects.
For the first time, the tabling of the Estimates was accompanied by the Revenue Measures for the Budget, ahead of the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning will receive close to two-thirds of the budgeted resources, with JMD$ 200 billion allocated to its departments and the servicing of debt. The Ministry of Education was second with JMD$ 79 billion, while the National Security and Health Ministries will each receive JMD$ 49 billion.[toggles style=”accordion”][toggle title=”Full Ministerial allocations for FY 2015/2016 (JMD$)”]• Ministry of Finance and Planning, $200 billion
• Ministry of Education, $79 billion
• Ministry of National Security, $49 billion
• Ministry of Health, $49 billion
• Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, $9.6 billion
• Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, $7.5 billion
• Ministry of Justice, $6.06 billion
• Ministry of Youth and Culture, $4.11 billion
• Agriculture and Fisheries, $4.26 billion
• Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, $3.77 billion
• Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, $3.65 billion
• Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, $3.02 billion
• Labour and Social Security, $2.51 billion
• Industry, Investment and Commerce, $1.96 billion
• Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, $1.70 billion[/toggle][/toggles]
Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Opposition spokesman on Finance and Planning, Audley Shaw, decried the estimates, saying: “There is nothing in this that you could call a growth budget. It is definitely not the growth budget that the country was looking for.”
Phillips has however defended Government’s allocation of resources, insisting to the press that his focus was on reducing the Government’s debt-to-GDP ratio, so that Jamaica could be “put on a path of sustained growth and equity.”
The Government hopes to garner JMD$443 billion in revenues in the new financial year – an increase of JMD$153 billion on the current year – from General Consumption Tax (GCT), income tax and customs revenues.
Editor’s note: As at press time, the USD to JMD conversion rate stands at 1:115. Cover image via United Nations Information System on Creative Commons license.