Jamaica News: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says a percentage of savings from Jamaica’s debt reduction programme will be transferred to the Contingencies Fund, to bolster the country’s response to natural disasters.
“In the new era of being fiscally resilient, whatever we save from the reduction in debt repayments, we are putting some aside to deal with catastrophic disasters that may happen,” he said during Thursday’s (October 17) official opening of Fontana Pharmacy’s Waterloo Square branch on West Kings Road in Kingston.
Prime Minister Holness, who stressed the seriousness of climate change, said weather patterns have changed significantly noting that adverse events which were rare occurrences previously, are now happening more regularly, thereby posing major risks for the country.
“But the biggest problem is that we didn’t plan for these. So we didn’t plan for them 50 years ago, we didn’t build the infrastructure to deal with these 100-year events which are now becoming 15 and 20-year events… and, certainly, we didn’t budget for them. So they are also a fiscal risk to the Government, and these are the challenges we face,” he said.
However, Mr. Holness said Administration has responded by reducing Jamaica’s debt and maintaining fiscal discipline which, in the process, has increased its fiscal space.
“That means we have a little bit more spending capacity; but it is not to be used in a profligate way. We have to [preserve] some of that… to deal with threats and risks that we are not going to be warned of,” he added.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government was able to set aside some $2 billion from the last budget for emergency and disaster recovery, instead of borrowing funds.
“That’s a major step; we have not had that before, in over 50 years. The truth is that the Constitution calls for the Contingencies Fund,” he further stated.
The Fund is provided for in Jamaica’s Constitution and was established under Section 13 of the Financial Administration and Audit Act to provide for unforeseen expenditure of any kind.
According to Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, the Government intends to maintain the Fund with future debt savings transfers, in accordance with the Act.
Source: JIS News