A $28-billion reduction in the Government’s capital expenditure for 2020/21 is expected to set back a number of very important major projects across the island this year.
However, despite the cuts — which were due to the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak — a few ministries were able to either retain their funding, or saw it increased to various levels. For example, in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security the funding for its Integrated Support to the Jamaica Social Protection Strategy increased from $8.5 billion to $11 billion.
Among the projects hit by huge reductions are: the much-anticipated south coast highway; the purchase of new Coast Guard surveillance vessels; Western Children Adolescent Hospital; the farm roads programme; access to financing for medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs); construction of new tax offices; and the acquisition of vehicles, repairs to stations, and purchase of telecommunications equipment for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service’s capital budget was reduced from $7.8 billion to $2.8 billion, with the main features being the removal of the entire $3.4 billion contingency provision for the Public Investment Management System, and an under-expenditure of $790 million at the Public Sector Transformation Implementation Project, which reduced its budget to $712.7 million.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information had its capital programme cut from $1.4 billion to $633 million, primarily due to a $692 million reduction in the capital funding for the Primary and Secondary (Schools) Infrastructure Programme.
In the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, capital spending of approximately $2 billion for the acquisition of fixed assets, mainly the final payment on 30 new fire units, was reduced to $837 million.
There has been a $2.5-billion reduction in capital spending in the Office of the Prime Minister, mainly due to reduced spending on a number of programmes, including the Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project, down $580 million; the Basic Needs Trust Fund ($425 million); and the Integrated Community Development Project ($220 million).
In the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, there are reductions for the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project ($6.6 billion); Montego Bay Perimeter Road ($3.2 billion); Montego Bay Closed Harbour Beach ($267 million): Montego Bay Waterfront Protection Project ($327 million); the Credit Enhancement Programme ($419 million); the Access to Finance for MSMEs ($260 million); and Boosting Innovation Growth and Entrepreneur Ecosystems ($385 million).
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