Gov’t Fulfills Promise of Massive Budget Reduction for 2010/11

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon Audley Shaw, tabled the Estimates of Expenditure totalling approximately $500 billion in the House of Representatives, Thursday (March 25).
Fulfilling a promise he made while tabling the Second Supplementary Estimates at Gordon House a week ago, that the new budget would be some $100 billion less than last year’s, the Minister tabled the 2010/11 Estimates some $93 billion less than last year’s.
In addition, Mr. Shaw tabled, for the first time ever, the Public Sector Consolidated Estimates of Expenditure, which consolidates Central Government and public bodies budgets, including a summary of their corporate plans, in keeping with the recently approved amendments to the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAAA) and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Framework for Jamaica.
The new budget for 2010/11, totals $499.4 billion in expenditure, compared to the $593 billion spent last year, comprising $339.6 billion in Recurrent Expenditure and $159.7 billion in Capital Expenditure.
Major cuts in the expenditures were most notable in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, where Public Debt Charges (interest payments) were reduced by some $37 billion, primarily due to lower interest rates.
There were also major cuts in allocations to the Ministry of Tourism, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, primarily for the acquisition of capital goods and equipment, as well as grants and contributions and slightly lower cuts in the Ministries of National Security, Education, Agriculture and Fisheries and Youth, Sports and Culture.
The Parish Councils also suffered severe cuts in their funding through the Parochial Revenue Fund (PRF) under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), but this could be offset by increased revenues from Property Taxes, expected to be announced by the Minister when he opens the Budget Debate on April 8.
There was increased funding for the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) for street cleaning: the Witness Protection Programme, as well as crimefighting agencies like Operation Kingfish, the Serious and Organised Crime Unit and the motorised sections of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and in providing meals for inmates of the correctional institutions.
The Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives (comprising all 60 Members of Parliament) will review the Estimates over three days, March 30 to April 1. The Budget Debate will run April 8 to 21.

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