Fri | May 29, 2020

Billions more for public bodies

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:31 AM

The 149 major public bodies in Jamaica that manage the development of various sectors of the economy will increase their combined capital spending to $75.1 billion in the upcoming fiscal year ending March 2021, up 19 per cent from the $63.1 billion in the previous year.

Projects at the National Housing Trust, at $43 billion, and National Water Commission (NWC), at $11.5 billion, will take up three-quarters of all capital spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

Capital spending at the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) ($3.7 billion), Port Authority of Jamaica ($2.7 billion), and Petrojam ($2.6 billion) will account for the bulk of the remainder, according to the Jamaica Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending March 2021 published on Tuesday.

Under major projects, the NHT will seek to construct more than 6,000 housing units, including developments at the Villages of Colebeck Castle, Perth, Ruthven Road and Industry Cove, according to the Public Bodies document.

The NHT expects to facilitate more than 9,400 new loans and mortgages for these and other schemes. It forms part of the NHT’s wider project of building 23,200 housing solutions by March 2023.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the NHT operations are also expected to improve, with revenues projected to grow to $34.1 billion, up from $33.4 billion a year earlier. It expects to keep expenses largely flat and increase its projected net surplus to $20.07 billion, or 4.5 per cent higher year-on-year.

Turning to the water utility, the NWC will spend funds to reduce leaks along its mostly underground water network. The major project involves the completion of its Kingston and St Andrew non-revenue water programme, which should reduce leakages from 50 per cent to 30 per cent. At the same time, the utility is projected to make a surplus of $1.34 billion for the fiscal year ending March 2021, which will reverse its net loss of $5.26 billion for this fiscal year ending March 31.

The Government will continue its rationalisation programme in the ensuing fiscal year. Overall, it wants to scrap or divest 48 public bodies over the medium term. The highlighted activity for the upcoming fiscal year includes the divestment of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank, the document stated.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com