Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness says the country’s strong performance in revenue increases has been gobbled away to manage the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Prime Minister who was responding to questions from JIS News, while on a vaccination mobilisation in Richmond, St. Mary on Friday (October 15), said all ministry budgets have been “impacted” to reallocate resources for the health challenge caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Even though we have an increase in revenues, those increase in revenues have been essentially absorbed by the requirements for managing the pandemic. We have increased funding of several billion dollars directly to health for COVID management, but we have also increased our social safety net allocations,” Mr. Holness said.
Adding that there is still “great demand” for resources to respond to natural disasters such as heavy rains that impacted the island earlier this year and last year, the PM said COVID has taken up funds that would have gone to other deserving areas of national life, and pleaded with citizens to get vaccinated so that the country can return to normalcy.
“The pandemic has caused a reallocation of resources away from other areas of use, into the management of the [crisis], and I believe that Jamaicans would appreciate that the quicker we are out of the pandemic, the better our resource allocation would be to deal with garbage collection, and more resources into education, and crime fighting,” Mr. Holness said.
The government recently disclosed that over the next few months, it will be spending $3.75 billion, to assist 350,000 Jamaicans who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, from a budget of $33 billion that will go towards critical areas due to the pandemic.
Mr. Holness in arguing that the pandemic has “created a real distraction and diversion” of resources away from other important challenges that the country faces, said focus must be on ending the crisis.