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  • Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, has said that final out-turns for revenues and expenditures in the 2015/16 Budget are expected to be settled with the next two weeks, for tabling in the House of Representatives on February 19, when the new parliamentary year officially begins.
  • Dr. Phillips told journalists that Cabinet considered the “basic outlines” of the new Budget and reviewed Jamaica’s current overall macroeconomic situation, with specific focus on “how to accelerate the growth agenda.”
  • Dr. Phillips explained that this revision in the timeline is a requirement of the new Fiscal Rules legislation, passed by both Houses of Parliament last year, which stipulates that the Budget be passed before the end of the current fiscal year, on March 31.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, has said that final out-turns for revenues and expenditures in the 2015/16 Budget are expected to be settled with the next two weeks, for tabling in the House of Representatives on February 19, when the new parliamentary year officially begins.

He made the disclosure during a special press briefing at Jamaica House today (January 26), where he provided details of the Cabinet retreat held on January 22.

Dr. Phillips told journalists that Cabinet considered the “basic outlines” of the new Budget and reviewed Jamaica’s current overall macroeconomic situation, with specific focus on “how to accelerate the growth agenda.”

“Overall, the Cabinet took the decision that the basic thrust of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) should be sustained to continue our basic debt reduction path and to unlock the dynamics of growth and employment creation in the economy,” he said.

“One of the central decisions (was) that the gains that have been made …in correcting the economic imbalances on our national accounts should not be sacrificed, but that more attention needed to be paid on ramping up the growth dynamic in the economy, so that we could achieve even greater than targeted levels of economic growth,” Dr. Phillips added.

Parliament will prorogue on February 17, with the opening of the 2015/16 year two days later, when the Estimates of Expenditure and Revenues will be tabled at the same time.

Dr. Phillips explained that this revision in the timeline is a requirement of the new Fiscal Rules legislation, passed by both Houses of Parliament last year, which stipulates that the Budget be passed before the end of the current fiscal year, on March 31.

The legislation, comprising the Public Bodies Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act, 2014 and the Financial Administration and Audit (Amendment) Act, aims to enhance transparency within the economy and ensure a sustainable budget, and will see Parliament having greater responsibility in the management of Jamaica’s economic affairs.

Dr. Phillips advised that parliamentary deliberations will follow the tabling of the Estimates, after which the Budget Debate will commence.

“It is going to require, perhaps, the most extensive test of the political maturity of the country to be able to enter the discussions about the revenues and the estimates, and the overall ERP, in a way that allows for differences of views to be expressed,”Dr. Phillips said.

He noted that ultimately, “we have an objective (to reduce) the debt that was and continues to be the main impediment to growth and development in the country.”