What Shaw said
Audley Shaw, finance minister, made a wide-ranging presentation yesterday in the House of Representatives to open the 2017/2018 National Budget Debate. Below are some of what he said:
1. On reducing selected Students' Loan Bureau interest rates
"Pay As You Study loans, interest rates will be lowered from 9.5 per cent to 6.0 per cent; and on postgraduate loans interest rates will move from 13.0 per cent to 9.5 per cent. Mr Speaker, for study in the areas of Maritime & Logistics, Agriculture, Engineering, and ICT, interest rates will decline from 9.5 per cent to 6.0 per cent."
2. On concerns about high service charges
"With the assistance of the Bank of Jamaica, we will establish a dedicated financial services consumer protection agency, for which technical assistance from the United States has already been requested. I expect, Mr. Speaker, that this agency will be established by the end of Financial Year 2017-18."
3. On the drawdown of $11.4 billion from National Housing Trust to support the income tax break
"We don't see it as a raid. It's part of a package and a total plan that is yielding greater benefits to hundreds and thousands of people. That's not a raid!"
4. On FINSAC
"I am pleased to announce that the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of the financial sector has been re-established with a view to completing the report and to making recommendations in relation to the findings. It is expected that this Report will be completed within the next six months."
5. On security
"The Government has committed to providing increased investment in the national security apparatus. The Government has prioritised this area for attention and has committed expenditure of US$51.4 million or J$6.6 billion over a three-year period, to improve the offshore patrol and aerial surveillance capabilities of the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard and Air Wing."
6. The poor
"We have not lost sight of the need to protect the poor and vulnerable in our society. Thus, we will continue in FY 2017-18 to strengthen the Social Safety Net to ensure that these persons are not left behind."
"What I have just presented to this Honourable House is part of Jamaica's journey to sustained economic growth and prosperity. It must be appreciated that the achievement of prosperity is a journey with both smooth and bumpy passage in parts. "