Almost $10 billion cut from Budget
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
WITH REVENUES running $14.5 billion behind projections at the end of December, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips yesterday tabled a revised Budget in the House of Representatives, showing cuts amounting to $9.9 billion.
The first supplementary estimates show that the Government is proposing to reduce the Budget from $612.4 billion to $602.5 billion.
The education ministry suffered a half-billion cut in its Capital B budget but portfolio minister Ronald Thwaites said the reductions will not have an adverse effect on the sector.
Among the cuts in education is a $319-million reduction to the Education System Transformation Programme, a $25-million reduction in the early-childhood development programme and the enhancement of basic schools project, which has been cut by $36.9 million.
"It would have been better to have spent it as voted, but it has not been taken away from us as part of any budget contraction," Thwaites told The Gleaner yesterday.
He added: "They do not represent permanent reductions of allocated expenditure."
The supplementary estimates were being tabled two months before the end of the fiscal year.
casualty of cut
In the meantime, a major casualty of the cut is a United Nations Development Programme-funded initiative called Jamaica Partners for Peace, Community of Practice in the Ministry of National Security.
This year, the programme targeted the empowerment of 45 persons with skills to respond to domestic violence as well as the training of 27 policemen, nurses, community workers and students to resolve domestic disputes.
Some $2.4 billion was earmarked for the programme but only $1.3 billion will be spent.
The spending axe has also impacted the Independent Commission of Investigations, which lost $8 million from the $288 million allocated at the start of the fiscal year. The Government said the revised requirement was due to lower-than-programmed expenditure.
fire service takes hit
Meantime, the possibility of an injection of more units to the fleet of the Jamaica Fire Brigade has been dealt a severe blow this year, with the Government indicating that nearly half of the money earmarked for the purchasing of vehicles will not be spent.
The Government had approved $96 million for the purchasing of fire trucks but in the first supplementary estimates tabled yesterday, it is being proposed to cut it to $49 million.
A notation in the Budget says the revised requirement is due to procurement delays.
The education ministry's capital A budget, which is funded by the Government, has been increased by $170 million largely due to repairs which became necessary after the passage of Hurricane Sandy.
The Budget also contains payments across all ministries and departments to public-sector workers for a seven per cent increase in wages for the period April 2009 to March 2011.
It also indicates that a further $73.3 million is to be spent refurbishing the South Camp Road Adult Correctional Centre for the holding of juveniles.