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The Government tabled the Second Supplementary Estimates in the House of Representatives, Tuesday (March 16), topping up its 2009/10 expenditure by $31.5 billion to $593 billion, mainly to meet debt obligations.
The net increases include $21.6 billion in Capital expenditure, nearly all of which goes to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for loan repayments, and $9.8 billion in Recurrent expenditure, to meet public debt charges (interest payments).
Although Supplementary Estimates have become the norm for successive governments since the 1990s, the latest estimates have generated very little excitement, due the lack of expenditure in areas other than debt management, with very minor increases in Health and Transport and Works.
The Recurrent Budget was highlighted by public debt charges rising by $11.5 billion, while pension payments rose by $400 million and under spending amounted to $3.8 billion, attributed mainly to lower than expected interest rates.
On the Capital side, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service’s Capital ‘A’ Budget, which is fully financed by the Government, rose by $26.7 billion to $183.1 billion, while the Capital “B” Budget, financed by multilateral and bilateral agreements, was reduced to $15.5 billion by under spending on several projects. An additional $300 million was made available to Health and Transport and Works.
In summary, the Recurrent Budget rose by $9.8 billion, increasing total recurrent spending from the original $376.1 to $385.9 billion. The Capital Budget rose from $185.4 billion to $207 billion. The total budget for 2009/10 rose from the original $561.5 billion, announced in April, to the revised figure of $593 billion.
The Estimates will be studied by the Standing Finance Committee, which comprises all 60 MPs, on Wednesday (March 17) at Noon, in time for debate and approval at the 2 p.m. final sitting for 2009/10.
The House is expected to be prorogued this week-end to make way for the State Opening of Parliament on Thursday, March 25, beginning at 11:00 a.m.
On that day, Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, will deliver the Throne Speech, in which he will outline the Government’s programmes and policies for the 2010/11 Fiscal Year, which begins on April 1.
Later in the afternoon, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, will table the 2010/11 Estimates of Expenditure in the House of Representatives.
The estimates will provide details on how the programmes will be funded, and what the various Ministries and agencies will receive for Recurrent (housekeeping) and Capital (development) expenses.
The Standing Finance Committee of the House will meet to consider the estimates from March 30 to April 1.
On Thursday, April 8, the Finance Minister will open the 2010/11 Budget Debate, which will last until April 21. During the debate, selected members of the Government and the Opposition will make presentations.
Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Dr. Omar Davies, is expected to make his presentation on Tuesday, April 13, while presentations will be made by a Government Minister and an Opposition Spokesman on Wednesday, April 14.
On Thursday, April 15, Opposition Leader, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller is scheduled to make her contribution to the debate.
Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding is slated to make his presentation on Tuesday, April 20. The Finance Minister will close the debate on Wednesday, April 21.
After the Budget Debate is completed, other members of the House of Representatives will make their presentations in the Sectoral Debate, which follows.