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KINGSTON — Supplementary Estimates tabled by Minister of Finance, Hon Audley Shaw, in the House of Representatives today, showed a $2 billion increase in the 2011/12 budget he presented in April.

The Estimates revealed a $4.4 billion increase in recurrent (housekeeping) spending, mainly due to the agreement on the payment of the seven percent wage increase to public sector workers, and $2.4 billion in cuts to the capital budget to help meet these payments, leaving a net increase of $2 billion and boosting the total budget for the financial year to $546.7.

The Capital "A" Estimates for 2011/12, which are fully financed by the Government, have remained basically the same, with only a slight reduction from $163.2 billion to $163.1 billion. This has occurred because, despite a $4.4 billion cut which has affected projects in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Energy and Mining, supplementary allocations of $4.3 billion have almost balanced out the figures

The Ministry of Finance also experienced a number of cuts in statutory payments, as well as in the transfer of subjects to the OPM where the Public Service portfolio is now located.

The Capital "B" Budget, which covers bilateral and multilateral agreements between the Government and foreign governments and agencies, was reduced from $29.3 billion to $27.1 billion, with the Ministry of Education’s budget shorn by $800 million, OPM by $670 million and Housing, Environment and Water by $500 million.

The changes in the Estimates inflated the total budget for 2011/12 from $544.7 billion to $546.7 billion. The total capital budget now stands $190 billion, down from $192 billion and the recurrent budget is now at $356.4 billion, up from $352 billion.

The estimates are to be discussed by the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), which will present its report to Parliament by next Wednesday, for review by the Standing Finance Committee (which comprises all 60 MPs), after which it will be debate the same afternoon.

Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness, in insisting on the need to approve the estimates by next Wednesday, described the situation as "convoluted", but assured that, "I believe we have the capacity to complete it by Wednesday."

By Balford Henry, JIS Reporter & Editor