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Jamaica’s govt to spend billions on recovery and vaccination plan


Jamaica’s govt to spend billions on recovery and vaccination plan
Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke. (GP)

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Kingston – The Government is to spend JCA$60 billion (US$398 million) to implement a Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine Programme for Jamaica (SERVE), which will provide the foundation of the country’s economic revival beginning in the upcoming fiscal year.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke made the disclosure as he tabled the 2021/22 Estimates of Expenditure in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

He said the programme will be facilitated, in part, through a one-off JCA$33 billion (US$219 million) dividend from the Bank of Jamaica, which is expected in the first week of April.

Under SERVE, JCA$10.5 billion (US$69.6 million) in special resources will be made available for the Ministry of Health and Wellness, including JCA$6 billion (US$39.8 million) for vaccines; JCA$1 billion (US$6.6 million) for personal protective equipment (PPE); JCA$1 billion (US$6.6 million) for drugs and reagents; JCA$2 billion (US$13.2 million) for the Regional Health Authorities; and JCA$500 million (US$3.3 million) for additional COVID-19-related expenditure – extra cleaning, catering, and security.

“Based on current prices and supply, we are making provisions for the Government to be able to finance the procurement and completion of the coronavirus vaccination for two million Jamaicans [double dose or single dose depending on the specific vaccine requirements],” Clarke told the House.

“The Government will allocate the funds, under the SERVE Jamaica Programme, to make the attainment of herd immunity in a single fiscal year fiscally feasible. The rest is up to the availability of supply, the logistics and distribution, all of which the Minister of Health will soon address,” he added.

SERVE also includes an allocation for an infrastructure programme to drive jobs and economic activity, improve productivity and strengthen resilience, including the South Coast Highway Project.

Some J$8 billion (US$53 million) will be spent on a special public investment infrastructure programme to improve productivity and increase resilience through the installation of drains, widening and dualisation of major thoroughfares and the construction of sidewalks.

In addition, the programme will deliver repair of roads across Jamaica and construction of new police divisional headquarters in Westmoreland and a new forensic pathology suite.

Also under SERVE, some JCA$5 billion (US$33 million) has been allocated towards targeted financing for businesses affected by the pandemic.

The programme will also deliver targeted social support above and beyond what is usually provided, which will be targeted to the vulnerable and those who have fallen on hard times as a result of the COVID pandemic.

The Finance Minister said: “Jamaica will recover; Jamaica will recover stronger.” (CMC)