House Approves Withdrawal from CDF to Support Bauxite Institute


The House of Representatives yesterday (May 31) gave approval for the withdrawal of an amount not exceeding $61 million from the Capital Development Fund (CDF), to be paid to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute for budgetary support for the financial year 2005/06.
Moving the resolution in the House, Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies informed that the withdrawal from the CDF was the second for the calendar year and the fund had a cash balance of $324.4 million as atMarch 31.
Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw served notice that he would move a motion for “a full-fledged debate” on the use of the proceeds of funds earned from the bauxite industry.
He said the motion was against the background of the imminent increase in the extraction of the resource with the major expansion of JAMALCO, and the fact that there was an estimated 40 years worth of bauxite left in Jamaica. “It is absolutely important that we have a discussion about how these funds are used to advance the alternative economic benefit, especially for persons who are from communities where we have seen the constant mining of the ore in those communities”.
He also expressed concern about the increased use of the CDF for budgetary support. “Governments since the inception of the CDF, have sought to do other things with the money other than the purposes for which it was intended,” he stated.
Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson, welcomed the discussion on the use of bauxite funds, noting that the government would be forthright in providing the relevant information to the House.
He noted that he would also speak on the issue in his June 7 presentation. “All governments have used these funds for budgetary support and there are good reasons why this has been so,” Dr. Robertson noted.
Dr. Davies also welcomed the discussion, but cautioned that it should be one that did not seek to lay blame on the bauxite alumina companies, “in the sense that those companies have come at our invitation, they are operating within the laws and it is for us to ensure that the maximum level of cooperation takes place”.
Dr. Davies further pointed out that the JBI’s contribution to the development of the industry, and the protection of Jamaica’s interest was not only well known in Jamaica, but had also gained worldwide recognition.
Hence, the JBI’s contribution in terms of its research in alumina, the rehabilitation of mined-out lands and a whole range of other areas, was significant and should be given due credit, he said.
Responding to Mr. Shaw’s concerns regarding the main use of funds from the CDF, Dr. Davies stated that, “the notion that you can start segmenting the Consolidated Fund into diverse geographic or sectoral funds, which are secured, even whilst the main consolidated fund carries the burden of debt servicing, is a dangerous notion. We are moving in the opposite direction and the number of small special funds, should be diminished, not expanded”.

JIS Social