Jamaica’s finance minister tables billion dollar budget

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Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday February 20, 2015, CMC – A budget amounting to J$641 billion (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.008 cents) for the upcoming fiscal year, was tabled in Parliament on Thursday afternoon by Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips.

This is just over $102.2 billion more than the government’s expenditure budget for the current fiscal year, 2014/15.

A substantial portion will go to debt servicing, followed by the public sector wage bill of which a portion of the budget has been set aside to pay public sector workers representing an increase of 3.4 percent.

“We have made provisions for an increase in the salary payments, 2015/2016 not included what we have provided in contingency pending the completion of our negotiations with the public sector,” he told reporters at a press conference following his presentation.

The Minister also tabled the Revenue Estimates, showing an estimated total of $443 billion in revenues, which is an increase of some $153 billion, from various tax and non-tax revenue sources including General Consumption Tax (GCT) of $113.3 billion and Income Tax of $11.5 billion. Customs is expected to contribute $25 billion.

There is also scope for $128 billion in loans and $4.7 billion in transfers from the Capital Development Fund (CDF), which is financed by the bauxite levy.

The Finance minister said while the government will be increasing its focus on compliance, there will be some new taxes. He said Jamaicans can expect J$8 billion in new taxes – the details of which will be revealed on March 12 when the budget debate begins.

Opposition spokesman on finance, Audley Shaw, will make his contribution on March 17. The debate will continue on March 19, with Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness, before Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller makes her presentation on March 24.It will be closed by the finance minister on March 25.

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