Increase Expenditure for Critical Areas of Budget says Opposition Spokesman


Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw has proposed an increase in expenditure for critical areas of the 2004/05 Budget, which was presented by Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies last week at Gordon House.
Mr. Shaw, while calling for increased expenditure in vital areas also urged the government to slash its consultants’ bill and to implement other cost-saving measures.
The areas cited by the Opposition Spokesman for increased allocation include the Jamaica Fire Brigade, which he said should get an additional $637 million of which $300 million should be for salaries and allowances and the remaining $337 million to be used for repairs to fire stations and fire units as well as acquire equipment.
He also proposed that another $170 million should go toward the Parish Infrastructure Development Programmes (PIDP) for the existing projects on the ground including the Brown’s Town Market, the Mandeville Parish Council Building and repairs to parochial roads.
Mr. Shaw who was making his contribution to the 2004/05 Budget Debate in Gordon House on Tuesday (April 20) proposed that another $100 million should be allocated to the infirmaries to repair the buildings and purchase equipment such as stoves, washing machines, among others, and $20 million to improve nutrition and bedding.
He also recommended that an additional $2.6 billion should go towards the Education Budget. Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw said another $1 billion should also be allocated to the health sector to cover arrears to suppliers of goods and services.
The Opposition Spokesman also suggested that $600 million more should be allotted to the Ministry of National Security to facilitate repairs at police stations, prisons, court houses and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) buildings.
Turning to agriculture, he said that $200 million more should be set aside for crop incentive programmes and $400 million to the Ministry of Tourism; of this amount, $200 million should be for micro enterprise self start fund and$200 million for the Jamaica Tourist Board overseas marketing budget.
Mr. Shaw also indicated that $500 million should also be allocated to a Bauxite Fund to assist with infrastructure and economic activities in mined-out communities.
Outlining how these additional allocations to the Ministries could be funded, the shadow spokesman on Finance said that it could be financed by a further reduction in interest rates by one per cent of the average interest rate on which the budget has been predicated. If this is done, he said, it could save the Government $4 billion.
Other initiatives, he said, that could finance these proposed increases to the Ministries were the implementation of cost saving measures within the public sector, which he said could save $900 million with the removal of waste and improved efficiency.
He also mentioned that further savings could come from the proposed merger of the National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ), the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the Ex-Im Bank and other mergers in the public Sector, which he said could yield an additional $1 billion.
Mr. Shaw said another $100 million could be saved if the Consultants bill of the Government was cut. Additionally, he said further divestment of assets including the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) shares in certain entities should yield another $1billion.
“These proposals will move this Budget from being primarily an accounting Budget with the emphasis on debt servicing, to a more creative and equitable distribution of resources, while maintaining the overall performances of fiscal prudence and tight budgetary management,” Mr. Shaw said.

JIS Social