Sun | Mar 24, 2019

How does the budget break down? Gov't outlines '14-15 spending plans

Published:Wednesday | April 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dr André Haughton

LAST WEEK, the Government outlined the Estimates of Expenditure to be approved by Parliament for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The figures are preliminary and are subject to change. Recall last year the original budgetary expenditure was $520 billion which was later revised to $500 billion. This year's estimated budgetary expenditure is approximately $540 billion; total expenditures are an estimated $438.6 billion while amortisation an estimated $100.8 billion.

Of this, recurrent expenditure is estimated at $404.7 billion, which includes wages and salaries of $161.7 billion, programmes and capital expenditure of $110.2 billion and $33.9 billion respectively, and interest payments on debt of approximately $132.700 billion ($81.243 on domestic debt and $51.426 on foreign debt). Amortisation is approximately $100.6 billion; $76.5 billion on external debt and $24.2 billion on domestic debt. This, plus interest payments give a total $233 billion out of the $540 billion for debt servicing.

How are the allocations?

Eight hundred and eighty-three million has been allotted to strengthen and protect the physical infrastructure of the island especially in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. The allotment will go towards improving the robustness of gullies and drainage systems, making them more hurricane and storm resilient. Two hundred and seventy-four million dollars has been provisionally allotted to undertake road works, to provide a self-sustainable system for safe and reliable road network. The target for this fiscal year includes the provision and improvement of traffic signals and continued training in the procurement of goods and services to improve road safety across the island, especially on the highways.

What about rural area development?

In an attempt to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people in rural areas, $327.4 million is allocated to be spent on rural area development. The programmes include improving education and health infrastructure as well as upgrading roads and other infrastructure. Two hundred and thirty-one million dollars has been allocated to add additional classrooms and improve classes in some rural area schools.

The Rural Economic Development Initiative has been allocated $350 million to improve tourism project and assist small farmers. Ninety-three million has been allocated for the continuation of the Poverty Alleviation Programme. The programme began in 2012 and aims to empower residents in volatile communities to improve their circumstances by capitalising on their potentials.

What about the environment?

The Government has provisionally budgeted $13.4 million to assist with climate change and convention programmes. This will assist the country to commence work on the preparation of the Third National Communication report and prepare the First Biennial Update Report, which is due in December; an obligation under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change.

The programme seeks to strengthen the framework and institutional capacity of Jamaican institutions and provide support to incorporate climate change considerations in national and sectoral development planning. Thirty million dollars has been allotted for the biodiversity conservation project under the Jamaica Rural Economy Adapting to Climate Change programme. The programme includes training farmers, community workshops, distributing timber seeds and reforestation projects.

What about the youth?

One hundred and seventy-four million dollars has been allocated to help unattached youth with their transition into adulthood and the work of world under the Youth Development Programme. The programme will provide training, on the job experience, labour intermediation services, information dissemination and sector management. The programme also includes construction and/or improvement of infrastructure to facilitate this.

What about health care and the disabled?

More than $1 billion is allocated to be spent to upgrade health facilities across the island. The plan is to upgrade child care and mental health facilities as well as implement better sewage treatment in health care facilities, medical waste enhancement management, primary health care renewal and piped medical gas infrastructure. Establishment of local area network in hospitals and connect all hospitals to a wider area network, expand paper health records and improve storage, install cold rooms in medical health facilities. Forty million dollars has been allocated to assist persons with disabilities; specifically to improve their skill sets and increase the employability of poor persons with disabilities, ages 18 to 36.

What about the fiscal policy?

More than $1 billion has been allocated to continue the fiscal administration modernisation programme. The aim is to achieve sustainable fiscal consolidation within the next couple of years, by strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. The programme aims to improve customs and inland revenue collection, debt management and government payment operations.

This will be achieved by Tax Administration Jamaica and modernisation at Jamaica Customs, implementation of a central treasury management system and installation of closed circuit televisions at tax offices in the urban areas. The plan is also to implement the automated system for customs data and installation of additional computers.

Dr André Haughton is a lecturer in the Department of Economics on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Follow him on twitter @DrAndreHaughton; or email editorial@gleanerjm.com.