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  • The first supplementary estimates for the 2014/15 financial year were approved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 9.
  • The estimates reflect an overall revised expenditure of $539.3 billion, representing a net reduction of $739 million against the original approved estimates of $540 billion.
  • In opening the debate, Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, noted that the supplementary estimates generally reflect transfers from the Ministry’s contingency provision to meet programmed expenditures.

The first supplementary estimates for the 2014/15 financial year were approved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 9.

The estimates reflect an overall revised expenditure of $539.3 billion, representing a net reduction of $739 million against the original approved estimates of $540 billion.

In opening the debate, Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, noted that the supplementary estimates generally reflect transfers from the Ministry’s contingency provision to meet programmed expenditures.

He said that the estimates reflect a reallocation of expenditure to meet critical new commitments, and an alignment of the budgets of Ministries, Departments and Agencies with the projected outturns for revenue and expenditure, based on actual performance for the first six months of the financial year.

“A total of $14.4 billion has been transferred from the contingency provision under the Ministry to meet programmed commitments, which include: salary and salary related commitments ($11.4 billion); electricity arrears ($1.4 billion); drugs and medical supplies ($1 billion) and General Consumption Tax (GCT) on government purchases ($300 million),” Dr. Phillips informed.

He added that an undisbursed balance of $3.1 billion remains under the contingency provision, $3 billion of which relates to estimated GCT on purchases for the second half of the financial year and $100 million to meet outstanding wage settlements.

Spending from the contingency provision has been reduced by $2.7 billion to reflect the revised projection for GCT on government purchases for the financial year.

The Finance Minister also informed that accommodation has been made in the Supplementary Estimates for additional expenditure in some areas.

These include: cleanup activities and repair of garbage trucks by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA); maintenance of roadways; outstanding arrears to the National Water Commission (NWC); outstanding bills to Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ); and additional support to meet statutory payments, taxes and customs duties due to TAJ and Jamaica Customs Agency.

For the Capital Budget, the overall expenditure reflects a net reduction of $3.7 billion due to the alignment of primary expenditure with the revised revenue forecast for the financial year, and the lower than programmed implementation of some projects during the first half of the financial year.

“For some projects, the reduction from significant implementation delays during the first half of the financial year resulted in expenditure being less than expected. Examples include the Major Infrastructure Development Project, the Rural Road Rehabilitation project, the construction of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) barracks and rehabilitation of the Hagley Park Road Complex for the Ministry of Justice,” Dr. Phillips said.

He also noted that adjustments to other projects, such as the Fiscal Management Programme under the Ministry of Finance and Planning, will result in expenditure programmed for the fourth quarter being differed to the new financial year.

Meanwhile, on the matter of government arrears, Dr. Phillips said the government has kept its commitment to control growth in domestic arrears over 90 days, with the intention of clearing these arrears.

“There is no doubt that this has been a difficult and often times painful process. The overall point is that the effort to reduce the debt and maintain the fiscal programme cannot be achieved without extreme fiscal discipline and sacrifice  on the part of the individual public servants as well as all Ministries, Departments and Agencies,”

Dr. Phillips said.

He added that three quarters of the arrears paid related to meeting commitments which “we inherited in regard to payments to public sector workers and buses.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Phillips said the government’s commitment to protect social programmes has been kept.

He noted that the budget of $8.1 billion for the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) cash grants and the PATH school feeding programme, has been preserved.

“The 15 per cent increase in the cash grants, which was approved in April, was paid out in October. This increase in October is in addition to the 15 per cent increase paid out in the financial year 2013/14, which brings the total increase in the PATH cash grants since April 2013 to 30 per cent,” Dr. Phillips said.

 

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