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#BudgetDebate2018: House passes 2018/19 budget

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, today accused the Opposition of misleading the House of Representatives regarding the national debt and employment figures during the 2018/2019 budget debate.

Shaw, who was closing the annual budget debate at Gordon House this afternoon, accused both Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips and Opposition spokesman on finance, Mark Golding, of either not doing their homework or attempting to mislead the House on the issue.

He noted that the Opposition MPs, who both spoke in the debate which started on March 8, claimed that the PNP inherited the national debt at close to 150 per cent of GDP in 2012, when it returned to power. He said that the actual national debt in 2012 was 131.3 per cent.

“In fact, the national debt was actually on a downward trend under the JLP Government at the end of our term (2011), particularly after the implementation of the historical Jamaica Debt Exchange conceptualised and implemented by the JLP Government of which I was finance minister in 2010. As a factual matter, the debt to GDP ratio actually fell between 2010 and 2011,” Shaw explained.

He said that the Opposition would also have the country believe that they reduced unemployment after they took office in 2012.

“The facts show otherwise. In 2011, when this Government left office, unemployment was 12.8 per cent. After the PNP came back into office, unemployment grew to 13.9 per cent in 2012 and peaked at 15.3 per cent in 2013,” Shaw explained.

He said that since then, unemployment has been slowly declining and, under the current JLP administration, the rate had fallen to a historical low of 10.4 per cent in October 2017, from 12.9 per cent when the JLP took over the Government in March, 2016.

The House of Representatives approved the 2018/19 budget at the end of the debate. The Government intends to spend a total of $773.6 billion for the fiscal year 2018/19, with $560 billion allocated for recurrent (house-keeping) expenses and $213.6 for capital expenditure.

Balford Henry

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