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Finance and the Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, is defending the 2010/11 budget, which he presented in the House of Representatives on April 8, describing it as credible.
He is also accepting responsibility for what he said was a miscalculation in the rate of interest, which resulted in the need for a $4.5 billion adjustment in the budget.
The Government plans to spend some $503.9 billion during the current fiscal year, of which $343.9 billion will be on recurrent expenditure, $63.2 billion on capital programmes and $96.8 billion on debt amortization.
Speaking at a post-budget press conference at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston, today (April 9), Mr. Shaw argued that his declaration of the budget’s credibility was based on the fact that, “we have sought to deal with the issues that must be dealt with.”
“That is why I was prepared to accept criticism of making the adjustment to the budget.up front. Where we had the error of the calculation of the interest, as a result of using the US dollar exchange rate, rather than the Euro exchange rate, once it came to my attention, I made the decision that I wanted it up front. Because, what would happen, normally, is that it (would wait) until the Supplementary (budget) time and then the correction is made. I made the decision (to correct) it up front,” the Finance Minister informed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw is urging public sector groups to maximise on the provisions which have been allocated to them in this year’s budget, in light of the constraint on resources available to the administration.
“I’m not going to be tolerant of any public sector entity or any Department of Government that’s going to say that the programme amounts that have been given to them are not enough. I’m instructing them to live within their means. The time has come for us to live within our means. Therefore, if travel has to be cut.cut it. If utilities have to be cut, then you put together a plan to save on electricity,” he implored.
Alluding to Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding’s directive for a 10 to 15 per cent reduction in electricity costs by public sector bodies, Mr. Shaw urged entities which have not yet implemented an energy conservation regime, to do so, post haste.
He cited the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Productivity Centre which, he said, has demonstrated the capacity to “save millions of dollars, in terms of electricity use at their various installations.”
“I want other ministries to follow suit. Use the opportunity to begin to effect the changes, because (there isn’t any) more money coming to you in a supplementary budget. I want to make it absolutely clear to everybody.live within your means,” Mr. Shaw said.