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Economic Oversight Committee concerned about Gov't's 'underspending'

Published:Tuesday | January 13, 2015 | 5:44 PM

Jerome Reynolds, Staff Reporter

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The body set up to monitor the Government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to lament that the Portia Simpson Miller-led is underspending.

The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) says while it is happy that Jamaica passed the sixth IMF quarterly review, it remains concerned that government's expenditure is below budget.

Speaking at a press conference today EPOC co-chairman Richard Byles disclosed that during the period of review, April to November 2014, the government under spent by $16.4 billion.

He pointed out that at the end of the review period, the cumulative primary surplus stood at $54.4 billion, 12.8 per cent higher than the budgeted amount of $48.2 billion.

Byles said while EPOC understands the need to meet the primary balance target, it is concerned that this is being achieved through persistent under spending.

He said the oversight body would prefer to see a more determined effort to collect taxes from companies and individuals who don’t pay their fair share.

The EPOC co-chairman pointed out that tax revenues for the review period remains below budget by $8.1 billion.

The government had budgeted $232.6 billion in tax revenue but collected $224.5 billion.

Byles said, as was the case in previous months, the major underperforming taxes were Company Tax and General Consumption Tax, GCT.

He said Company Tax fell short by $4.7 billion while GCT fell by $6.9 billion.

Noting that Jamaica has committed to a primary balance of $121 billion at the end of the January – March 2015 quarter, Byles said the government will have to be aggressive in collecting every dollar of revenue as well as being mindful about spending.

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