The Senate has approved the Appropriations Bill, giving approval to the Government’s estimated expenditure of $520.88 billion for the financial year 2013/2014.
A budget of $520.88 billion was presented by the Government for 2013/14, with $370.5 billion earmarked for Recurrent (house-keeping) expenses and $150.38 billion for Capital (development) spending.
In piloting the Bill in the Senate on Friday, May 10, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, noted that the Estimates represent the launch of Jamaica’s medium term economic programme, which is supported by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and other key bilateral development partners.
He stated that Jamaica faces the new fiscal year with a tight expenditure, but one where capital expenditure is up by more than $6 billion, and the portion of the budget which is allocated to debt service has been reduced from 54 per cent to 43 per cent of the budget.
“This is clearly moving in the right direction. Interest rates are very low in real terms and the funding of the Medium Term Economic Programme will mean that the Government’s need to compete for funding in the domestic capital market will be minimized, thereby freeing up loan resources to the business community, large and small,” Senator Golding said.
The Minister also informed that the exchange rate has adjusted to restore some of the purchasing power competitiveness that had been lost after the revaluation which occurred in the months following the 2010 Stand-by Agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
“This is good for exporters in industry, agriculture and the tourism industry as it enhances their competitiveness. Jamaica consistently runs a massive balance of payment deficit and the subsidizing of an overvalued exchange rate to the detriment of the productive sector, is not sustainable,” Mr. Golding said.
He informed that the adjustment has been made and the Jamaican dollar has now stabilized at approximately $99 to US$1.
“I expect that flows into the foreign exchange market will continue to be bolstered by the unwinding of long positions in the financial sector, as institutions who were hedging against currency depreciation unwind these positions, which are now costly and loss making,” the Justice Minister said.
For his part, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Arthur Williams, noted that “growth will not be achieved through mega projects.” He recommended that the Government schedule a time for both Houses of Parliament to debate a growth agenda for Jamaica.
In his contribution to the debate, Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson noted that his Ministry will continue to fulfill its role as defender of the trade interest of the country.
“We have tasked our overseas missions to facilitate the strategic policy of the strengthening of the role of the Jamaican Diaspora in national development, promote private sector trade missions, promote Jamaica as an investment destination, facilitate expansion of technical economic and other types of co-operation with traditional partners and establish new partnerships with other countries,” Mr. Nicholson said.
He noted further that there is also a strong co-ordinated approach to international relations between the Ministry and its Overseas Missions on issues of national development.
In that regard, Senator Nicholson said the Ministry is pursuing the expansion of Jamaica’s diplomatic presence to include Panama, India and Russia in the medium term as well as the establishment of an increased number of Consulates, including the CARICOM region.
An Appropriations Bill authorizes the Government to spend public resources. It follows the passage of the Budget in the House of Representatives.
Contact: Latonya Linton