[HIGHLIGHTS] PM 2012/2013 Budget Debate Presentation


Response to revenue measures

Government, after discussion with the Minister of Finance, has completely removed GCT on electricity bills for all residential customers. 

Energy

Government is awaiting the outcome of the bids and any subsequent negotiations for the provision of necessary infrastructure and the supply of the LNG.

Conservation must be practiced in homes, farms, factories, offices, hotels and while we go about our daily business in cars, buses, trucks.

As Government, we will be setting the example by undertaking several projects to reduce our own use of fuel. The Office of the Prime Minister will take the lead in the national conservation efforts.

 

Investments

Mega Projects

North to South leg of Highway 2000. A Toll Highway linking Mandela Highway to the Linstead bypass. This then leads to Mount Rosser, to Moneague and on to Ocho Rios. This will result in $720 Million being pumped into this economy.  But it does not end there.

Kingston Container Terminal to accommodate the new container ships which will be seeking a port location. This will allow Jamaica to leverage its geographic position and take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Proposed development of a new container terminal on lands at Fort Augusta. These lands will be used for the expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal and will be twinned with the planned establishment of a Free Zone facility on lands at Caymanas.

This government is committed to working closely with our International partners, including members of the Private Sector from France, China, Brazil, as well as our traditional partners from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada or wherever meaningful investments can be found.

 

Partnership with Diaspora

Government is actively engaged in negotiations for many other projects in the ICT and Tourism Sectors. The respective portfolio Ministers will elaborate on these opportunities in their presentations during the Sectoral Debate.

Government will establish a National Commission on Cultural and Creative Industries. This Commission will assist the Government in establishing the enabling policy and legislative frameworks to maximize the benefits of the cultural and creative industries.  This process recognizes that cultural and creative industries span sectors administered by nine ministries of government.  This sector will see joined-up Government at work.

 

Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme

A total of 5,800 jobs across several sectors has already been created.

In this Fiscal Year, Phase II of the JEEP will be rolled out.

There will be projects from the Ministry of Agriculture, HEART NTA, the National Works Agency, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Housing and the National Housing Trust.  The total amount which will be spent during this fiscal year will be just over $6 Billion.  This financing has been identified and secured.

The Government will collaborate with Food for the Poor in providing free of cost 1,200 housing units each year for poor households throughout Jamaica. The lands for these housing units will come either from the beneficiaries themselves or government owned lands.

The second housing project under JEEP is again in collaboration with Food for the Poor. Under this initiative, Food for the Poor, the Ministry of Housing and the National Housing Trust will collaborate in providing starter units for contributors earning between $5,000 and $7,500 weekly.

 

Creating the Ownership Society

Approximately 55% of NHT contributors earn less than $10,000 per week. The Housing Trust is therefore coming up with a number of new measures to assist this vulnerable group.  

In order to facilitate the process, the Government has agreed to grant the NHT tax free-status in respect of GCT, stamp duty, property tax and transfer tax for the next two years. The NHT will pass on this benefit thereby enabling more affordable housing for that category of beneficiaries.

NHT Home Grant allocation for the last two quarters ending December 2011 and March 2012 totalled $336 Million and benefitted 280 qualified applicants who earn $10,000 per week or less.

Commencing this month, these grants to the tune of $1.2 Million for each qualified applicant will be allocated daily on a first come basis to qualified walk-in contributors. This is not a one-time arrangement. It is a policy that will remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

Ten per cent of the total home grant will be reserved for qualified applicants with disabilities.

 

Effective September 1, 2012:

Contributors who qualify for loans at 3% interest will now only repay at 1%

Contributors who qualify for loans at 5% will now pay only 3%.

These special reduced rates will apply for three years.

Also effective on September 1, hotel workers who earn $10,000 per week or less and who have applied for an NHT mortgage during the next three years, will receive a 1% reduction below the normal rate.

The 1% interest rate reduction for public sector workers, which was originally due to expire on March 31 next year, has been extended to March 31, 2015. Contributors will therefore enjoy that benefit for two additional years.

The NHT will introduce a new Mortgage Partner Policy aimed at more affluent contributors.  These are settled homeowners who typically do not apply for their refunds and who do not anticipate accessing a benefit from NHT. 

They may however have a trusted friend, family member or caregiver or gardener, helper or staff member they would want to help.  The mortgage partner will forego their NHT homeowner benefit but can qualify for a Home Improvement loan after 15 years. The mortgage beneficiary who is assisted can also access a Home Grant, if eligible, to improve their affordability.

The Government is also making a commitment to give suitable housing lands to the NHT to add to their land bank, in furtherance of their housing programmes.

Within the next 2 months, the National Housing Trust will be advertising 3 new developments, for which subsidies will be announced.  They are:

In Clarendon, Longville Phase 3, there will be  918 solutions

In Manchester  – Perth 1, Mandeville – 259 serviced lots

In St Thomas, Creighton Hall  – 140 serviced lots

The NHT will contribute $10 Million this year to JEEP. This is for its administration of training, certification and employment promotion. Youth in NHT schemes including those in the inner cities will benefit from this training programme. It will seek to facilitate greater impact of sweat-equity in home construction.

NHT will also continue its recently introduced practice of allocating up to 15% of its scheme solutions to young professionals.

 

Improvements to JDF Up Park Camp Base

A few weeks ago I visited with the very hard working men and women in the Jamaica Defence Force at Up Park Camp. As Minister of Defence, I toured a number of areas including their living quarters, and Mr. Speaker, I was most distressed to see the deplorable condition in which our soldiers are living.

I immediately brought this to the attention of the new NHT Chairman and asked that he discuss with his Board ways and means to immediately address an outstanding agreement on this matter.  I am pleased to announce that the JDF will be allocated $1.6 Billion to rebuild Lathbury Barracks at Up Park Camp, using its Engineering Battalion.

 

Land Administration and Management Programme

There are 450,000 parcels of land in the Register Book of titles, but there are hundreds of thousands of parcels that are not registered.

In this our Jubilee year, Project LAMP will be re-engineered.  Through this programme, more Jamaicans will finally get the title that show that they formally own the parcels of land on which generations of their families have lived and toiled.

Jamaica's 50thAnniversary Scholarship Programme

Mr. Speaker, this year, the Government of Jamaica, with the generous support of the Petro-Caribe Fund, will award 50 scholarships to students island-wide. The scholarships will be awarded based on academic merit and financial need. They will be distributed as follows:

20 to GSAT Students

20 to Undergraduate students entering university in the Jubilee year;  pursuing science, technology and entrepreneurship

10 to Post-graduate students doing research in neutraceuticals to create new industries, sport management and cultural industries

The scholarship programme is estimated to cost $205 Million. The Jamaica 50 Scholarship Programme is a sound investment in Jamaica's future.

 

Community Development

This government is committed to investing in community development. The Community Development and Renewal Programme will play a major part in the transformation of our cities, towns and villages.

The community renewal programme aims at violence reduction and community development projects in 100 of the most vulnerable and volatile areas across the island. 

These 100 communities account for up to 83 per cent of murders, 73 per cent of major crimes, and 43 per cent of informal settlements.

This programme is a targeted intervention which is aimed at transforming communities and the lives of the persons who live in these communities.  This programme complements the Citizens Security and Justice Programme.

The National Housing Trust has already allocated 150 Million Dollars to the down town Inner City Housing Programme for the UDC to implement. Other government agencies will also continue to invest in our communities.

Last Month, I signed a J$1.4 billion agreement with the European Union to be invested in poverty reduction, and community renewal. This is to be implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). The funds will be invested in those 100 vulnerable communities I mentioned earlier.

Once again we thank our international partners, the European Union for their invaluable contribution and dedication.  They have been working with several government entities. The government is grateful to the EU for its ‘buy-in’ of our approach and for coming on board to provide valuable grant assistance

As part of investing in social infrastructure in communities and to enhance community policing, the NHT will contribute $25 Million towards the establishment of a police post in Longville, Clarendon. 

JSIF also has an important role to play in the development of rural and urban communities. The Agency will be spending approximately 450 million dollars in this fiscal year.  Some of the communities to benefit from this allocation are:  

Africa, Spanish Town

Flankers in Montego Bay,

Browns Hall, Homestead and Central Village in St Catherine  

In addition to that, JSIF will be required to implement projects in excess of J$2.7 billion, plus a potential additional J$770 million from the Petro Caribe Development Fund. Other partner agencies are the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Urban Development Commission and the National Housing Trust.

 

Urban Development Corporation (UDC)

Markets across Jamaica will also be retrofitted in a collaborative effort between the UDC and respective Parish Councils. It is critical that we provide a comfortable environment in which vendors can sell and consumers can shop in comfort and safety. 

For our 50th Anniversary, the Linstead Market with its rich history and prominent position in our folklore, has been chosen for special treatment.

 

Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre

The construction of a Cultural Centre has been facilitated by a grant from the Government of Venezuela and resources from the Government of Jamaica. The Government has approved an additional expenditure of US$1 Million to complete the Centre.

The Centre will promote and showcase our cultural heritage and will also complement other cultural development projects being planned as part of the redevelopment of Downtown Kingston.

 

Sport and Community

The Government of Jamaica intends to achieve the following objectives in the medium term:  

Establish a National Sports Museum

Establish a Sport and Wellness Centre

Re-establish the National Sport Council  

As part of our Rural Development Strategy, the Government, acting through the Sports Development Foundation, will be restoring and rehabilitating twelve (12) sport facilities in sugar dependent areas at a cost of $213.7M.

 

Core Values and Principles – Restoring Discipline, Civility and Values

Through the Ministry of Youth and Culture the Child Development Agency will be strengthened to respond to the growing number of reports from the Office of Children’s Registry. The Minister of Youth and Culture, on behalf of the GOJ, signed a J$1.2 Billion Action Plan with UNICEF for focused intervention for child protection and development over the next five years.

 

Persons with Disabilities

Reviewing the Disabilities Act. Ministries implementing the JEEP must ensure that persons with disabilities are employed in the project. Persons with disabilities will be provided with technology to assist them.

 

National Security

A new National Security Policy will be completed  This will provide us with a comprehensive framework to guide the national security apparatus and the administration of the criminal justice system.

The National Security Policy will also frame our cooperation and collaboration with our international partners. As a major strategy, the Government of Jamaica will be moving to “take the profit out of crime”. The intention is to dismantle and suppress the criminal gangs and organized criminal groups, as well as their facilitators.

We will continue the work to strengthen the capacity of our security forces to confront the criminal and violent forces in our society while being mindful and respectful of the rights of all our citizens.  We will also improve our social intervention programmes. The Minister of National Security will expand on these measures when he makes his presentation.

 

Minimum Wage

The Minister of Labour will request that the Minimum Wage Commission to conduct a review of the current minimum wage with the aim of making an adjustment during the course of this year.

 

Foreign Policy

Embassy in Kuwait and Embassy in Brazil are open.  Representation on the African continent is being enhanced through the accreditation of a special representative to the African Union.

Inter-Ministerial Committee on Diaspora Affairs involving all the relevant Ministries and Agencies of Government to ensure that the linkages are in place for fuller participation of our nationals living overseas will be done.

The administration will seek to revitalize CARICOM to make it fulfill the promise which the founding leaders envisaged.   CARICOM working at its best, is an important instrument in the management of our relations with the hemisphere and the wider world.

 

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