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IMF did not order Budget cut - Hughes

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2011 | 12:00 AM

FINANCIAL SECRETARY Dr Wesley Hughes yesterday rejected speculation that the reduction in the size of the 2010-2011 Budget is a result of directives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Central Kingston Member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites suggested during the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee's (PAAC) examination of the second Supplementary Estimates that the cuts represent "strangulation" and may have been ordered by the IMF.

"I just find a peculiar congruence between what I read was their comment on our situation and what is brought to us," Thwaites remarked. "If it is so, just tell us because we know who our masters are."

In response, Hughes said: "If it were so, I would have told you."

Jamaica last year entered into a 27-month standby arrangement with the multilateral agency to borrow up to US$1.27 billion to support its medium-term economic programme and cope with the consequences of the global downturn.

The national budget has been reduced by $6.3 billion down from the $503 billion, which was approved last April.

Meanwhile, only seven of the 15-member PAAC turned up for duty yesterday. They are Dr Wykeham McNeill (chairman), Dr St. Aubyn Bartlett, Franklyn Witter, Fitz Jackson, Phillip Paulwell, Morais Guy and Thwaites.

Robert Montague, Ernest Smith, Gregory Mair, Tarn Peralto, Michael Stern, Othneil Lawrence Donald K. Duncan and Ian Hayles were absent.