JIS News

Jamaicans across the islands are benefitting from four projects, costing more than $10 billion of new Government expenditure.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, speaking at the official opening of the Portmore Tax Collectorate recently, cited these projects as the abolition of cost sharing in education and user fees in the health sector, implementation of a Constituency Development Programme, and an increase in the number of beneficiaries under the Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
“The four projects put together represent over $10 billion of new expenditure that have never before been seen in any previous budget,” he stated, noting that he did not have to “impose a record tax package”.
In addition to the many needy Jamaicans benefitting from the abolition of cost sharing and user fees, Minister Shaw noted that under the Constituency Development Programme, which will cost $2.4 billion a year”, each Member of Parliament will be allocated $40 million per year for constituency projects.
He gave the assurance that there will be transparency and accountability in the issuing and spending of the funds.
“It mustn’t be spent in secret. It must be spent in consultation with not only the political directorate, but also in consultation with the citizens of the communities in which those funds are being expended,” he stressed.
Turning to initiatives under PATH, the Finance Minister said, “we are now bringing on board 120,000 additional Jamaicans.so that we can assist in mitigating the high cost of imported food.”
Under PATH, a social safety net programme funded by the Government and the World Bank, the most needy and vulnerable Jamaicans receive cash grants to assist them in sending their children to school. Funds are also given to schools for the school feeding programme. Currently, 127,000 students are benefitting from the PATH programme. The Prime Minister announced earlier this year that the benefit to individuals would increase from $530 to $650 per month.
“As a Government”, the Finance Minister said, “we have to listen to the people, we have to establish priorities, we have to make concessions, and we have to put off some of the glorified projects, to deal with some of the bread and butter issues that are important to preserving our future and securing our children’s future, so we have made critical decisions”.