Jamaica News: Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), Dr. Damien King, has lauded the Government for presenting a “responsible” $835.2-billion Budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year.
Speaking at CaPRI’s Annual Budget Review and Public Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, on March 25, Dr. King noted that the Budget, details of which were outlined in the House of Representatives by Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, on March 7, is in line with those presented in recent years that reflected positive out-turns.
“It is consistent with continued debt reduction, falling interest payments and rising revenues,” the Executive Director said.
Noting that Jamaica’s fiscal management framework was previously characterised by “large fiscal deficits,” Dr. King highlighted “something quite remarkable” within recent years, which sparked a turnaround in the country’s economic fortunes.
“Jamaica started balancing its Budgets. Within the margins of error and definitions, we have had balanced Budgets… and accounts for the last six years; and the new Budget continues that achievement,” he said.
Dr. King pointed out that Jamaica’s debt has steadily declined from nearly 150 per cent to gross domestic product to the point where it is projected to fall below 100 per cent by the end of the current year on March 31 for the first time, “and is programmed to continue going down”.
Dr. King said this development has been creating the necessary fiscal space to facilitate increased Central Government capital expenditure, citing the $72 billion programmed for 2019/20.
He pointed out that the sum, which is a five per cent increase over the provision in the 2018/19 Revised Estimates, is significantly higher than the nearly $40 billion allocated four years ago, “and suggests a real focus in the Budget on economic growth”.
Some $20.2 billion, representing 28 per cent of the allocation, is earmarked for national security expenditure, with another $18.4 billion programmed for major infrastructure works.
Dr. King argues that these along with the reduction in transfer taxes from nine to two per cent, which he believes will spur increased investments, are “signature, forward-looking changes” in the Budget.
Additionally, Dr. King said the over $14 billion in revenue being given up by the Government, “are not to be interpreted as some kind of giveaway or abandonment of fiscal responsibility”.
“In the context of a balanced budget, this is a responsible Budget,” he emphasised.
Source: JIS News