- Mr. Speaker, let me begin the closing presentation for the 2015/2016 Budget Debate by again thanking the staff of all of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies across Government and, in particular, the Financial Secretary and the other members of the team at the Ministry of Finance and Planning; the Governor and staff of the Bank of Jamaica; the Director General and staff of the Planning Institute of Jamaica for ensuring that the new budget process was successfully implemented.
- Let me repeat, this was a ground-breaking exercise, which provides the opportunity for the House, and indeed the country, to have a much more informed discussion and debate about our future.
- In this regard, I would like to again thank you, Mr. Speaker and the members of the House for supporting this new process:
- For the most part, the process went well:
./ The Estimates, and accompanying documents, were submitted on time as planned;
./ The Auditor General was able to review the Fiscal Policy paper and respond on the veracity of the content; and
./ The Standing Finance Committee of the House was able to complete its deliberations in a timely fashion.
- In spite of the challenges, we are on schedule to approve, for the first time in Jamaica’s history, the national budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year.
- However, while the deliberations were for the most part constructive, it is regrettable that towards the end, discussions at the Standing Finance Committee seems to have lost focus.
- What has bedevilled us over the years, Mr. Speaker, and was unfortunately all too evident during the debate in the House, is the excessive partisanship and political point-scoring which devalues the debate and results in:
- the misrepresentation of facts; and,
- the abuse of public officials and our international partners.
- For example, the abuse of the IMF, whether it be in reference to the passing of tests, or worse, to state that these tests are “contrived” is not befitting of the Opposition Spokesman on Finance and does the country no favours [page 40 – 2015/15 Presentation].
- In fact, it is an insult to the very sacrifice that the people of Jamaica have had to make to meet the pre-conditions set in order to secure an agreement with the Fund. What is more, it belittles the sacrifices that the Jamaican people have made and continue to make in meeting the country’s obligations under the programme, which have been critical to the country’s economic recovery…READ MORE