Shaw on plans for NHT funds: It's not a raid, it's executing an equitable plan
Finance Minister Audley Shaw is defending the Government’s decision to dip into the coffers of the National Housing Trust (NHT) despite describing similar actions by the previous administration as 'raids on the NHT'.
Yesterday, Shaw announced that the Government will be taking $11.4 billion from the NHT to fund the Budget.
When quizzed on the matter, Shaw said the Jamaica Labour Party Government is not raiding the NHT, but executing an equitable plan.
In 2013 Shaw castigated the previous administration for seeking budgetary support from the trust. He said he was surprised the International Monetary Fund was in support of the drawdown and the Jamaica Labour Party threatened legal action to test the legality of the move.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister says Jamaica will be closer to achieving its debt target following the adoption of a new definition for public debt.
The new debt definition identifies public debt as the consolidated debt of the specified public sector, except the Bank of Jamaica.
The specified public sector is comprised of Central Government and public bodies, excluding any public body certified by the Auditor General as primarily carrying out functions that are of a commercial nature.
This new definition will come into effect on April 1 and will be consistent with the definition being used by the International Monetary Fund under the Precautionary Stand-by Arrangement.
Shaw says the public debt is expected to be 115 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of the 2016/2017 fiscal year when compared to 124.1 per cent under the old definition.
In addition, he says at the end of the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the debt to GDP ratio is projected to be 108.6 per cent.