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The Senate on Friday (March 27) passed the Appropriation Act 2020, approving the $853.5 billion the Government intends to spend in the 2020/21 Estimates of Expenditure.

This Bill provides authority for expenditure (other than statutory expenditure) for the financial year 2020/21 and specifies the manner in which the money is to be allocated to the various services and purposes of the Government.

The Bill was approved following contributions from Senators from both sides of the Senate.

Piloting the Bill, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the Budget for the financial year 2020/21 proposes total net expenditure of $853.5 billion, which is a decrease of $5.6 billion or .7 per cent of the programmed expenditure for the financial year 2019/20.

She said the decreased expenditure is due to lower debt servicing for the financial year 2020/21, as the non-debt expenditure has been programmed to increase by 4.4 per cent.

Mrs. Johnson Smith informed that the total net expenditure is comprised of non-debt recurrent expenditure of $454.2 billion, capital expenditure of $74.2 billion, non-debt below the line expenditure of $37.3 billion and debt service expenditure of $287.8 billion.

“In respect of non-debt recurrent expenditure, which represents a 4.7 per cent increase over the programme spent for the prior year, it consists of $232.9 billion of recurrent programmes and $231.3 billion for compensation of employees,” Senator Johnson Smith noted.

“This figure for employees includes the application of the five per cent salary increase for the fiscal year as agreed with public-sector unions,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson Smith, who is also Leader of Government Business, said the allocation for recurrent programmes, which is 5.8 per cent more than the prior year, will facilitate the operational activities of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including the purchase of goods, services, subventions to supporting agencies and tertiary institutions, travelling allowances and pension payments.

“In respect of capital expenditure, for the financial year 2020/21, the capital Budget of the Central Government amounts to 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP),” she pointed out.

Senator Johnson Smith commended the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Public Service and his team “for the creativity, commitment, and the agility brought to bear in the preparation and delivery of this Budget for 2020/21”.

“I also want to thank the stakeholders who have been a part of the process and who continue to support the work of this Administration as we seek to navigate unchartered waters and, of course, to commence a decade which will undoubtedly and has already started to produce challenges, but one in which we will also find opportunity and one in which we know that if we are all committed to working together, we will indeed build a new Jamaica, delivering peace, prosperity and resilience for all,” she said.

The Bill was approved in the House of Representatives on March 24, following the close of the Budget Debate.

The new fiscal year begins on April 1.

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