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Deficit projected at 6.5%

Published:Friday | April 9, 2010 | 4:00 AM

Finance Minister Audley Shaw is projecting that Jamaica will grow tax revenues by eight per cent this year and start rolling out a more restrained wage policy, but will still fall way short of funds - estimated at 6.5 per cent of GDP - to cover his half-a-trillion dollar operational budget.

The ministry expects to collect $287.2 billion in taxes - climbing to $326.3 billion when other income is factored - but plans to spend $504 billion.

To cover the gap, it will borrow $176.3 billion — $118 billion from Jamaican investors and $58 billion from multilateral and other external sources.

Last year, the country went after debt of more than $301 billion, some $248 billion of which was raised domestically. Shaw lauded the Jamaica Debt Exchange programme for the pullback.

His fiscal deficit projection of 6.5 per cent - linked to JDX savings, projected at $42 billion this year and a more restrained wage policy - splices in half Shaw's estimated 10.9 per cent deficit for the year just ended, and is more bullish than the International Monetary Fund estimated 7.5 per cent.

Salaries are expected to drop to 9.5 per cent of GDP in four years, down from the current 11.75 per cent.

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