The Government is to spend $60 billion to implement a Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine Programme for Jamaica (SERVE), which will provide the foundation of the country’s economic revival beginning in the upcoming fiscal year.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, made the disclosure as he tabled the 2021/22 Estimates of Expenditure in the House of Representatives on February 18.
He said that the programme will be facilitated, in part, through a one-off $33-billion dividend from the Bank of Jamaica, which is expected in the first week of April.
Under SERVE, $10.5 billion in special resources will be made available for the Ministry of Health and Wellness, including $6 billion for vaccines; $1 billion for personal protective equipment (PPE); $1 billion for drugs and reagents; $2 billion for the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs); and $500 million for additional Covid-related expenditure – extra cleaning, catering, and security.
“Based on current prices and supply, we are making provisions for the Government to be able to finance the procurement and completion of the coronavirus vaccination for two million Jamaicans [double dose or single dose depending on the specific vaccine requirements],” Dr. Clarke told the House.
“The Government will allocate the funds, under the SERVE Jamaica Programme, to make the attainment of herd immunity in a single fiscal year fiscally feasible. The rest is up to the availability of supply, the logistics and distribution, all of which the Minister of Health will soon address,” he added.
SERVE also includes a $31.1-billion allocation for an infrastructure programme to drive jobs and economic activity, improve productivity and strengthen resilience, including the $17.7-billion South Coast Highway Project.
Some $8 billion will be spent on a special public investment infrastructure programme to improve productivity and increase resilience through the installation of drains, widening and dualisation of major thoroughfares and the construction of sidewalks.
In addition, the programme will deliver $3.7 billion for repair of roads across Jamaica; $1.2 billion for the Montego Bay Bypass; and $0.5 billion for construction of new police divisional headquarters in Westmoreland and a new forensic pathology suite.
Also under SERVE, some $5 billion has been allocated towards targeted financing for businesses affected by the pandemic; $1.7 billion for rural farm roads and productivity incentives to boost agriculture; and $1.8 billion to expand Wi-Fi and broadband in schools and communities, especially the rural areas.
The programme will also deliver $8.1 billion in targeted social support above and beyond what is usually provided, which will be targeted to the vulnerable and those who have fallen on hard times as a result of the COVID pandemic.
He said, further, that some $0.7 billion has been allocated to the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to complete construction of the Closed Harbour Beach Park and other activities and $0.8 billion to other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Dr. Clarke said that SERVE will boost the country’s economic recovery. “Jamaica will recover; Jamaica will recover stronger,” he added.