Clarke announces $2.7b in additional social intervention expenditure

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has announced $2.7 billion of additional social intervention expenditure, including an allocation of $750 million for an Independence Clean-Up of Parish Capitals campaign.

Of the amount, $550 million will be allocated to the National Solid Waste Management Authority, and $189 million through Members of Parliament via the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Clarke, who made the announcement during Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, said amounts allocated via the CDF can be used for beautification, bushing and drain cleaning activities.

The Finance Minister also announced the allocation of $150 million for the trucking of water under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development (MLGRD) to areas experiencing water challenges “due to the erratic nature of rainfall islandwide and especially in the parishes of St Elizabeth, Clarendon and Portland, but not limited to these parishes”.

There will also be $550 million in General Welfare Support for beneficiaries who are not on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) in the following amounts: (i) $189 million through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) (ii) $189 million through the CDF for welfare and economic enablement activities (iii) $70 million through municipal corporations for welfare and economic support (iv) $52 million for poor relief through MLGRD and (v) $50 million through the MLSS’s Public Assistance Department.

Additionally, Clarke said $550 million has been allocated to pensioners at the bottom of the income ladder; $450 million for 45,000 NIS pensioners who receive pensions less than $15,000 per month and $100 million for 10,000 social pensioners who are not PATH beneficiaries.

Clarke also announced $1.789 billion in back-to-school one-off grants which will be implemented through the MLSS and directed towards 160,000 PATH school-aged children.

In addition, $189 million in back to school education grants and assistance to non-PATH vulnerable students through the CDF will also be provided.

“You will note a total of $9 million per constituency in additional support to the Constituency Development Fund for the above mentioned activities. I am advised by the CDF that each Member of Parliament should consult with the Director, CDF to be guided on the administration of these additional allocations,” Clarke told his fellow Members of Parliament.

He explained that the additional $2.7 billion brings to $3.8 billion, the amount in social intervention expenditure provided by the government. He said $1.1 billion is already accounted for in the budget, while the incremental $2.7 billion expenditure will initially be funded by advances from existing budgeted resources.

“These advances will be cleared following regularization of the expenditure in the First Supplementary Estimates 2022/23,” Clarke said.

In justifying the additional expenditure, Clarke pointed out that “the world is facing challenging times”.

“After enduring two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst pandemic in 100 years, and the historic economic contraction it induced around the world, the world now faces the highest levels of global inflation in 40 years. Supply chain pressures related to the dynamics of COVID-19 had a negative impact on prices towards the latter half of 2021,” he noted.

He added that: “This has been seriously compounded by the war in Ukraine, which began earlier this year. So even as we celebrate 8.2 per cent GDP growth for the 2021/22 fiscal year released by STATIN yesterday (Monday), which represents a strong start to our recovery, and as unemployment at 6.2 per cent is at a historic low, we need to ensure that we continue to provide protection for the most vulnerable and those impacted by global conditions who are least able to absorb these shocks”.

Clarke reminded that in his closing budget presentation he announced $3.5 billion of measures to alleviate the impact of these conditions, including $800 million to provide assistance to public transport operators as a means of protecting the substantial number of Jamaicans who depend on public transportation, $750 million for a food assistance programme targeting 75,000 Jamaicans; $152 million for an increase in the allocation toward transportation assistance to students on PATH; and approximately $2 billion to the GOJ Energy Co-Pay where the Government of Jamaica contributes 20 per cent of the JPS bill for all post-paid households that consume 200kWh of electricity or less, per month, over the four-month period of April 2022 to July 2022 as well as $3,000 per month over the same period for pre-paid residential customers.

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