Jamaica — Education Gets 22 Percent Of Recurrent Budget

Education received the largest share of the 2023/24 Budget for recurrent programs outside of debt payments and compensation of employees.

A sum of $142.9 billion is earmarked for the sector in the upcoming fiscal year, representing approximately 22 percent of the $657.2 billion for non-debt recurrent expenditure.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, provided the details during the opening of the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives in Kingston on Tuesday (March 7).

Of this amount provided, $9.3 billion will go towards school nutrition support, which includes $7 billion for the provision of breakfast and cooked lunch for Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) beneficiaries, reflecting a 66 percent to 100 percent increase in daily lunch rates from $110/$150 to $250.

The nutrition support also includes $1 billion through Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) for the production and distribution of breakfast and snacks for students, $258 million in grants to designated schools to facilitate the preparation of meals under the breakfast and cooked lunch program and $119 million in cash grants to designated schools to assist in the maintenance of school canteens.

The Education Ministry will also receive $380 million to cover the cost of school transportation to PATH beneficiaries, while $15.3 billion was budgeted as subvention for the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, reflecting an increased provision of $1 billion to each institution to offset increased operating costs.

A sum of $2 billion has been set aside for books and educational materials, which represents a 100 percent increase, and $1.5 billion for information and communications technology services, including $1 billion for the procurement of laptops for teachers.

Allocations for other Ministries include $42 billion to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for public-sector pension payments and $3.1 billion for the operation of streetlights.

The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will receive $4.7 billion for the maintenance and repair of roads, river training, islandwide disaster mitigation, and cleaning of gullies; $1.2 billion for bridge development and construction, inclusive of the replacement and maintenance of bridges that need urgent improvements across the island, and $943 million for traffic management and control.

Approximately $7 billion was allocated to the Ministry of Transport and Mining to meet operational expenses, including salaries and suppliers’ payments to the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC).

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is projected to receive $8.4 billion to support the payment of cash grants to PATH beneficiaries and $408 million for social pensions for the elderly.

For Tourism, an estimated $3.6 billion is allocated to the Jamaica Tourist Board, in addition to $1.1 billion for the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and $1 billion for the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

Under the Ministry of Health and Wellness, $14.7 billion is earmarked for drug and medical supplies and $10 billion for the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

The Ministry of National Security will receive approximately $111.7 billion to support recurrent operations, with $59.1 billion for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), $32 billion for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), $11.4 billion for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and $2 billion for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will receive $1.1 billion for Production Incentives aimed at increasing livestock and fisheries production, $235 million for maintenance of the National Irrigation Commission’s Infrastructure, and $610 million to rehabilitate farm roads.

In addition, the Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology will get $1.2 billion to support the National Broadband Initiative and $770 million to support the Tablets in Schools Program.

Meanwhile, the compensation of employees accounts for $367.4 billion, or 56 percent of the $657.2 billion allocated for non-debt recurrent expenditure.

The amount covers $32.8 billion to meet the estimated second-year cost of the new compensation system, a $6.5-billion contribution to Public Sector Health Insurance Schemes for current employees and government pensioners, and $1.4 billion to continue payment of GOJ’s arrears to the National Housing Trust (NHT).

Source — JIS

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Edited by Jesus Chan

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