The Government will be scaling up public investment in the Second Supplementary Estimates for 2020/21, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 6).
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said that the objective is to help revive economic activity and maintain jobs, adding that it sends an important signal to the private sector about the Government’s confidence about the future.
“It is for this reason that we are increasing the capital expenditure component of the Budget by $6 billion, of which $4.6 billion will go towards the South Coast Highway Improvement Project,” he told the House.
“We believe that the South Coast Highway Improvement Project meets the definition of the kind of public investment that catalyses economic activity and jobs, which is precisely what is needed at this time,” he added.
The Second Supplementary Estimates proposes overall additional expenditure of $15.7 billion to generate a total expenditure budget of $853.7 billion.
Dr. Clarke said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has reduced the revenues available to the Government while also increasing expenditure.
He noted that, to date, COVID-19-related non-debt expenditure includes $2.6 billion in the Third Supplementary Estimates of 2019/20 that was advanced to the Ministry of Health and Wellness; $27.2 billion in the First Supplementary Estimates for the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme, to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and amounts advanced to public bodies whose revenues and activities were impacted; and $7 billion in the Second Supplementary Estimates for Ministry of Education, Youth and Information – tablets; Ministry of Labour and Social Security – back-to-school grants; Ministry of Health and Wellness; CARE Programme; Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA); and COVID-related expenditure for the security forces and correctional services).
“This is a total of $36.8 billion on COVID-19-related non-debt expenditure. When you add increases in interest costs in the Second Supplementary Estimates vis-à-vis the 2020/21 Budget, the total COVID-19 expenditure impact to date is $43.8 billion,” Dr. Clarke told the House.
The Finance Minister said that the Second Supplementary Estimates also addresses the adjustment of subjects following the recent election.
The newly created Ministries are provided with budgetary allocations for the second half of the fiscal year by reallocating from their prior subject Heads.