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MPs to comb through Budget at Standing Finance Committee

Published:Wednesday | February 28, 2018 | 12:32 AM

As Parliamentarians carry out the nation’s business of combing through the Estimates of Expenditure at today’s meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament, one opposition lawmaker is expressing concern that the budgetary allocation to some critical ministries in the upcoming fiscal year is less, in real terms, than the amount set aside in the 2017-2018 Budget.

Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding has indicated that the sums allocated in the 2018-2019 Budget to the ministries of health, education and justice are less in real terms, than that of 2017-2018 when adjustments are made for inflation.

He pointed out that significant funding in the Budget is directed to capital expenditure that would fall under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and also the Office of the Prime Minister. He highlighted funding for the National Identification System and roadworks.

Golding said that the Government was trying to improve its growth record, which he described as disappointing in 2017. According to the opposition spokesman, Jamaica only managed economic growth of point-five per cent last year when the United States and Europe grew by 2.5 per cent.

“If you don’t adequately focus on the social dimension in Jamaica, we are not going to see the growth we need. My own view and belief is that investment in human capital is what we really need to focus on to get our people as productive as possible for the 21st-century economy.”

The Government is projecting to spend approximately $773.7 billion in the new fiscal year, which begins on April 1. This is $31.8 billion less than the $805.5 billion budgeted for this fiscal year.