News - Real Estate - Finance (April
Davies tables $346.3-billion budget
A tight budget, with the total just more than $18
billion above the total expenditure for 2004/2005, was yesterday tabled in the
House of Representatives by Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Omar Davies.
The estimates indicated government's intention
to meet its deadline of a balanced budget in 2005/2006, which begins today.
Although education and national security got some additional support, there were
severe cuts, especially in health, local government and telecommunications.
The figures showed estimates of $186.4 billion
for recurrent, or housekeeping expenditure and $159.8 billion for capital
expenditure making a grand total of $346.3 billion. The 2004/2005 budget ended
up at $328 billion.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning, as
usual, ended up with the bulk of the funds with $104.4 billion in recurrent
allotment and $146.4 billion in capital funds. Most of these funds will be used
to pay debt, or compensate employees, including $105 million to the staff of the
newly created Financial Investigations Division of the ministry.
There was an allocation of $485 million for
housing assistance to persons adversely affected by Hurricane Ivan, $28 million
to Kaiser Bauxite Company for land restoration. Approximately $1.6 billion,
which was added for contingencies to cover any additional expenditure which may
arise during the year.
The figure for repayment of loans for public
sector entities went up from $64.9 billion to $78.7 billion, while that for
repayment of loans from commercial banks dropped from $1.6 billion to $665.8
There was a loan of $677 million to the Jamaica
Cricket 2007 Limited for the 2007 ICC World Cricket Cup. The loan is a part of a
US$28-million loan to the company for the renovation of Sabina Park by
Education, Youth and Culture got $34 billion
for recurrent spending, compared to last year's $30 billion, and $3.4 billion
for Capital A projects which are financed by the Government of Jamaica,
including $245 million to cover a deferred financing arrangement for a project
to improve the quality of educational facilities in Westmoreland, Hanover, St
James and Trelawny which falls due this year.
The new Early Childhood Commission got $53
million, of which $38 million were to purchase goods and services. There was $72
million for some 29 infant schools and $849 million for community basic schools,
islandwide. Nutrition Products Limited had a huge increase in funding from
$424.7 million to $1.6 billion, including $1 billion to cover cash grants to
students attending designated schools under the traditional programme and those
under the PATH programme.
The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission
(JCDC) had its budget increased from $122 million to $191 million, mainly by a
$53 million increase in funding for the celebration of national events this
In the Ministry of National Security, there is
$19.6 million to finance the by-election scheduled for April 13 in West
Kingston, of which $10 million is to purchase equipment for the election which
will be using the electronic voter identification system.
In the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), there
is $45 million more for criminal investigation, $145 million for auxiliaries
including the Island Special Constabulary Force and $32 million more for its
community relations section which includes the police band, the Centre for
Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, Dispute Resolution and other
activities including police youth clubs.
The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) got $3.4 billion
of which $2.6 billion is for military services including the purchase of
ammunition and maintenance of weapons ($346 million), $286 million for the
National Reserve, $139 million for the air wing, $201 million for the coast
guard and $510 million for engineering services.
The Correctional Services' adult institutions
will receive nearly $300 million more in recurrent funds, with the bulk going to
the troublesome General Penitentiary on Tower Street, Kingston to cover the
compensation of its staff, rehabilitation of offenders and purchases of goods
and services on a day-to-day basis.
Hardest hit by cuts, the Ministry of Health had
its general administration budget cut from $327 million to $256 million,
especially in terms of its standards and regulations funding, which covers
grants to public bodies, the Pesticide Control Authority and the development and
monitoring of standards, as well as its health service delivery. The Southeast
Regional Health Authority (SERHA), which covers Kingston, St Andrew, St Thomas
and St Catherine with 88 health centres and nine hospitals, had its recurrent
funds slashed from $1.4 billion to $72 million of which $56 million is for
emoluments for employees.
The government, however, indicated that it
expects the health facilities to collect $1.4 billion in user fees paid by the
public this year, of which the SERHA was expected to earn $573.4 million.
In the Ministry of Local Government, the Jamaica
Fire Brigade's recurrent budget was cut from $1.7 billion to $1.5 billion, the
grant for administration of fire stations was slashed by more than $200 million,
the grant for maintenance of fire hydrants cut by almost half to $4.8 million.
The postal service was severely hit by a cut
in its recurrent budget from $12 billion to $1 billion, especially in terms of
postal administration and postal stationery and printing services where there
were severe cuts in funding for compensation for employees, public utility bills
and purchases of goods and services.