The Government is proposing to spend a total of $830.8 billion for the 2021/22 fiscal year.
This is comprised of recurrent programme expenditure of $247.8 billion; compensation of employees, $239.2 billion; capital expenditure of $54.2 billion; debt servicing of $272.2 billion; and loans to public bodies of $17.3 billion.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, made the disclosure as he tabled the Estimates of Expenditure in the House of Representatives on Thursday (February 18).
The Minister told the House that the Budget follows a year of economic contraction due to the measures undertaken to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
He noted that by the end of March, Jamaica would have experienced five consecutive quarters of economic decline.
As such, he said that that the Budget has been formulated around the continuing global and local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to counter its spread, maintain stability in the economy, and restore higher levels of economic activity.
He said that the task for the upcoming fiscal year is to begin the economic recovery.
“We aim for economic recovery to begin the upcoming fiscal year and, furthermore, to begin this upcoming April-June quarter. Our Budget, within the strictures with which we have to operate, and to the greatest extent possible, is aligned with this objective,” he noted.
“Make no mistake about it. This is a dangerous economic crisis and the wrong choices could prolong and deepen its effects. On the positive side, however, the path out of this crisis is clear, but it is a very narrow path. Meaning, we can’t do everything, we have to prioritise and even prioritise within priorities, and we have to be very strategic and deliberate in what we do,” he added.
Dr. Clarke told the House that the Government’s priorities for recovery include ensuring that there is adequate provisions for vaccines.
“It is essential that the financing exists for Jamaica to procure sufficient vaccines to reach herd immunity with respect to the coronavirus, in the quickest possible time,” he pointed out.
“We need to ensure that we bolster social support to assist the vulnerable persons and those who are most affected by the pandemic. We need to continue to finance the provision of the public goods and services on which our society and economy depend,” he stressed.