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JA minister warns of budget cuts

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

JA minister warns of budget cuts

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Finance Audley Shaw has warned of “sacrifices” to be made as he gets ready to present the First Supplementary Estimates to Parliament within two months.
Shaw said this has resulted, primarily, from the settlement of the outstanding seven per cent salary increase and the attendant retroactive payments to be made to public sector employees amounting to J$30 billion (US$353.1 million) for which provisions have to be made in the 2011/2012 budget.
He cited protracted negotiations between the government and the trade unions representing public sector employees, as one of the principal reasons delaying the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) review of the Government’s performance and targets, as stipulated under the Standby Agreement.
“Now $30 billion, in any currency, is a lot of money, and so let us understand that a part of the delay in the IMF review is that we have to be cutting and carving to make the space to accommodate that agreement that we have signed,” Shaw said.
“And what I can signal is that, we are going to have to make some sacrifices in order to accommodate those demands that have been made upon us and which we have finally agreed to. We had signed an agreement, and the public sector held strain for a while during the crisis, which we appreciate, and we are trying our best now to start to resolve that issue,” he added.
Shaw stressed, however, that the full cooperation of the nation is needed to achieve the targets, because there are ceilings within which the Bruce Golding administration still has to operate.
He said that, in the circumstances, there are inevitably areas of expenditure cuts that are going to come.
“By late August, early September, I will be tabling an early supplementary estimate, once it is approved by Cabinet, so that we can move forward with doing our business,” Shaw stated.