Jamaica: The government of Jamaica has crafted a lean Budget for the future fiscal year, focusing on an ambitious vaccination plan and jobs as linchpins to spark a financial recovery.
According to Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke, Both the repeated and capital budgets are flat yearly. Still, the administration plans to launch a $60-billion program it dubs ‘Serve Jamaica,’ proposed facilitating the bulk of Jamaicans’ vaccination, financed mainly through a $33-billion return from the Bank of Jamaica on Thursday.
The second element of Serve Jamaica comprises the continuation of a series of construction and agricultural schemes to employ every citizen of Jamaica.
“It will make chances thousands of jobs,” said Clarke in an immediate reply to a Gleaner question after his presentation; I will speak more on it at a later date.”
Clarke stated in Parliament that the administration would seek to procure vaccines for two million Jamaicans in double- or single-dose parts, dependent on the drug class.
“The GOJ will allocate the funds, under the Serve Jamaica plan, to make the accomplishment of herd immunity in a single fiscal year financially feasible,” stated Clarke.
Herd immunity would require 70-80 percent of the community to be vaccinated.
The $60-billion plans will include $10.5 billion in special devices for the Ministry of Health, with two-thirds set for vaccines and the rest for personal protective accessories and related services. Approximately $31 billion will go towards foundation programs to drive jobs and economic activity, with just over half concentrating on the South Coast Highway.
Five billion dollars will go towards financing for businesses influenced by the pandemic; $1.7 billion for rural farm roads and agro-productivity; $1.8 billion to expand wireless Internet in schools and associations; $8.1 billion in targeted social support beyond usual allocations; $700 million to complete development at the Harbour Beach Park and other activities; and $800 million for other projects.
The overall Budget for the financial year 2021-22 stands at $830.8 million, compared to $850.3 million in 2020/21, which ends next month.
The recurrent or housekeeping expenses are calculated at $776.58 billion, or $21.7 billion lower than the current financial year. At $54.2 billion for 2021-22, the capital budget should raise $2.2 billion above the current financial year.
Clarke explained to The Gleaner that the capital budget should grow by about $10 billion once accommodating for the way. The administration will account for the social welfare Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Previously, the administration placed the bulk of funds for PATH on the capital side of the Budget as it displayed a World Bank loan. With that loan at an end, the administration will put the funding of PATH on its recurrent side.
The coronavirus pandemic has placed the economy and health resources of the island under severe stress. The fallout resulted in the loss of 130,000 jobs, with much hemorrhaging in the tourism sector. No public-sector jobs were lost, but the administration will seek a one-year delay “concerning the origin of implementation of the compensation restructure” as the GOJ focuses on promoting Jamaica’s recovery.
“This Budget follows a year in which Jamaica encountered the worst economic contraction in its past, due to the measures necessary to slow the extent of the coronavirus,” Clarke stated.
“Inclusive of the current January-March 2021 quarter, by the end of March, we will have encountered five consecutive quarters of financial decline,” he stated.
The hit to the funds in FY 2020-21 is estimated at an unparalleled decline of 11.3 percent, or $73.3 billion, associated with the FY 2019-20 inflows.
Clarke said that the economy suffered several years of contractions under previous downturns.
According to Estimates of Expenditure, The timeline for recovery remains experimental, with future combined capital and recurrent budgets continuing flat until the financial year 2023-24, at $879.6 billion; the Budget then jumps to $1.08 trillion in the financial year 2024-25.