Senate Approves Budget


The Senate on Friday (April 23) passed the Appropriation Bill, giving approval to the Government’s estimated expenditure of $503.9 billion for the financial year 2010/11.
The Bill, piloted by Leader of Government Business and Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, was approved by the House of Representatives on April 21.
When broken down, the figures show that the Government expects to spend $343.9 billion in recurrent expenditure, and $160 billion in capital expenditure including $96.8 billion in debt amortisation.
As has been the case over the years, debt servicing continues to eat up the largest slice of the national cake some $240 billion or 47 per cent, followed by education, health and national security.
In his contribution to the debate, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Ronald Robinson, welcomed the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) initiative which, he said, reflected a paradigm shift.
“For the last decade or two, each year more of our dollar is allocated to the repayment of debt. This year, what we are now seeing, because of the debt exchange, it has been reduced to 47 cents of every dollar,” Senator Robinson pointed out.
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator A.J. Nicholson noted that the Government should renegotiate and convert the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement into a three year extended fund facility.
He suggested that this was needed, “in order to spread the burden of adjustment and repayment over a longer period”.
But Government member, Senator Kamina Johnson, noted that the current Stand-by agreement with the IMF could be extended to 36 months.
“It has that flexibility built within it, therefore, the lengthy discussion of renegotiating an extension to extend the fund for 36 months, is nonsense,” Senator Johnson said.
The Appropriation Bill authorises Government spending of public resources, and follows the passage of the Budget in the House of Representatives.

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