Jamaica News: Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-Chairman, Keith Duncan, says robust tax revenue growth over the last two years is creating the welcome fiscal space that allows for notable increases in Government capital expenditure and social spending.
These increases, he said, are reflected in the first 2018/19 Supplementary Estimates, tabled in the House of Representatives on September 25 by Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, which show an additional $17.8-billion allocation for critical government operations.
A total of $7.3 billion is earmarked for the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP); $7.14 billion for street-lighting arrears; and $2.5 billion for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC).
“These expenditures are to be covered by additional tax revenues of $8.5 billion and additional distributions and non-tax revenue from public bodies amounting to $10.1 billion,” Mr. Duncan indicated.
He was addressing journalists during EPOC’s quarterly media briefing at Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited’s (JMMB) corporate offices in Kingston on Wednesday (October 17).
Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) data show that revenue inflows for April to August 2018 totalled $207.9 billion, some 3.6 per cent above the budgeted $200.6 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Team’s fourth Precautionary Standby Arrangement (PSBA) review, conducted in September, showed that inflows for the period up to the end of June 2018 totalled $127.8 billion as against a target of $110 billion.
Mr. Duncan said data also show that the inflows increased to $168.4 billion in July, $207.9 billion in August, and were poised to meet September’s $234-billion target.
He indicated that capital expenditure for April to August was $24.4 billion, some $2.8 billion or 13.2 per cent above budget.
This expenditure, the EPOC Co-Chairman added, is $10.7 billion greater than the $13.7 billion spent for the corresponding period in 2017.
“This improved investment in capital expenditure demonstrates the Government of Jamaica’s commitment to the overall stimulation of growth in the economy,” he further noted.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duncan said Government’s social programme expenditure totalled $11.5 billion as at June 2018, which was $5.1 billion more than the budgeted floor (minimum) of $6.4 billion.
He pointed out that the tax revenue and expenditure out-turns contributed to a Primary Surplus of $42.1 billion at the end of August, which exceeded the Government’s target of $34.3 billion.
Mr. Duncan said the robust tax revenue inflows resulted from continued improvement in compliance, with approximately 6,080 new persons brought into the tax net as at July 2018.
“EPOC acknowledges the targeted effort of the Government of Jamaica [and] Tax Administration Jamaica in widening the tax base, which has contributed to the positive performance of tax revenues,” he added.
Source: JIS News