Government Hikes Budget by $11.2 Billion

THE $525.2-billion budget presented by the People’s National Party Administration less than a month ago has jumped by just over $11.2 billion, which the Government says is largely due to the provision of funds for the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) as well as the payment of arrears for the Clarendon Alumina Production plant (CAP).

The revised budget, which now stands at just more than $536.439 billion, is reflected in the third Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure tabled in Parliament yesterday by the Administration, the antithesis of the second Supplementary Estimates which was shaved several weeks ago by $21.5 billion reflecting cuts in spending for the remainder of the fiscal year which ends on March 31.

The Administration, in a Ministry Paper accompanying the Estimates yesterday, said allocations from the Consolidated Fund to the two public bodies have been changed, necessitating the submission of the revised budget figure. As it stands, an additional allocation of $1.9 billion was taken from the Consolidated Fund to be placed into the Road Maintenance Fund for JDIP. Of this amount, US$8.1 million represents the Government’s counterpart payment on additional expenditure of US$53.7 million, while US$13.7 million represents management fees due to the Road Maintenance Fund and the National Works Agency.

In the meantime, CAP’s arrears will be hitting the US$460.5-million mark this month-end, hence the provision of US$58 million in the revised Estimates tabled yesterday to liquidate those arrears, the administration said.

Among the other agencies receiving increased allocations are the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development which has benefited from an extra $1.4 billion, and the Ministry of Finance and Planning which has seen an additional $5.5 billion to their recurrent budget. The Finance Ministry said that sum includes $505.1 million which reflects an additional requirement to settle outstanding claims on the Sabina Park Development by Ashtrom Jamaica for Cricket 2007 arbitration.

The Transport and Works Ministry has also received a further $1.9 billion on the capital side.

Leader of Government Business in the House Phillip Paulwell said the Estimates will be examined by the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), beginning at 9 am today. The PAAC will submit its report to the House of Representatives which is expected to convene at 2:00 pm today to further consider the Estimates and sign off on that report.

Meanwhile, the House yesterday gave its approval for the withdrawal of $88.4 billion from the Consolidated Fund to allow Government to carry on its business from April 1 this year until the new budget for the 2013 fiscal year is approved. The Administration said the sum is what is needed to carry-on its business until the new budget is debated and passed. As is customary, the carry on budget does not include any new allocation for increases in the salaries and allowances of government workers other than what was agreed to by the administration in the old budget, or any new service or work that provision has not already been made for.

Source: Jamaica Observer

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