JIS News

Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has said that the country will have to find its own money to close the budget gap this year.
In a national broadcast tonight, Mr. Golding said that the Government cannot borrow more money to close the gap, and the nation will have to start “cutting our suit to fit the cloth.”
“We will have to raise more revenue and, tomorrow(Thursday April 23) the Minister of Finance, in opening the Budget Debate, will outline the tax package that is required to close the gap,” he said.
He indicated that the tax package will seek to spread the burden “as wide as possible”, so that it doesn’t fall too heavily on any one set of people.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that there have been “rumours” about planned disruption, but added that such action would serve no useful purpose, and would only force a restructuring of the budget by reducing allocations to areas like education and health, and lead to the laying-off of public sector workers.
Mr. Golding said that even though the Government has cut expenditure and reduced the size of the budget, in real terms, and even though the wage increases due to public sector workers this year were frozen, there is still a gap in the budget to be closed.
“We can’t cut the budget anymore to close that gap,” he declared.
“As I have said before, the country is going through tough times – tough times for you and tough times for the Government. All of us have to help the country through this crisis, so that we can position ourselves for recovery after it has passed,” Mr. Golding said.
“Let us not sacrifice the interests of the country on the altar of expediency of whatever kind or motivation. Let’s not hand the country over to lawlessness and anarchy. The security forces are on alert and are prepared to respond to any situation where public order is disturbed. But, I appeal to all Jamaicans: Let that not become necessary. Let good sense prevail. Let us confront our challenges no matter how difficult they may be.
“We did not cause the global crisis, but we are suffering the consequences and we must ensure that we endure. We have come through tough times before. We will come through these tough times, as well, and we will come through them better and safer if we do so together,” he concluded.
He said that for many years, the country has been borrowing and spending in order to keep spending, and piling up more debt in the process.
“We cannot go on like this! We have to change course! The global crisis has only made matters worse because, with the collapse of the capital markets, it is even harder to get money to borrow.
“Even though we have cut expenditure and reduced the size of the budget, in real terms, even though we have had to forego the wage increases that were due to public sector workers this year, there is still a gap in the budget that must be closed.
“We can’t cut the budget anymore to close that gap. We can’t cut expenditure on the police force at a time when we are fighting this monster of crime and violence. We can’t cut what we are spending on our schools when the future of our children and, indeed, the country depends on improving the quality of their education. We can’t cut expenditure on our health services, when there are so many persons who can’t afford to go to private doctors or private hospitals.
“We cannot borrow more money to close the gap in the budget. That would only be digging ourselves into a deeper hole, forcing us to find more money to service that additional debt. We can’t stop borrowing completely and suddenly. We will have to reduce our borrowing gradually over time. But make no mistake: we are going to have to start cutting our suit to fit the cloth; we are going to have to start paying our way to prosperity instead of borrowing our way into deeper misery,” he said.

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