Gov't cuts spending

Gov't cuts spending

Finance minister announces $3.5-billion reduction in expenditure for fiscal year

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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MINISTER of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke yesterday tabled the Third Supplementary Estimates for 2020/21, showing a $3.5-billion reduction in spending for the fiscal year.

The third estimates were largely triggered by increased expenditure created by the Administration's continued management of the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the people and economy.

However, the finance minister was sure to note that the effect on the budgets cuts on various ministries were not expected to affect their ability to operate effectively.

Clarke told the House that it is significant that, even in the midst of the pandemic, “We are looking ahead, building economic institutions with the conviction that, in the long run, credible, durable, accountable, transparent, and robust institutions make the difference in the economic development process.”

The figures he presented yesterday showed the Government's overall budget falling from $853.8 billion to $850.3 billion. The capital budget was reduced from $53.5 billion to $52 billion for the fiscal year, and the recurrent or housekeeping budget has a net reduction of $2 billion (falling from $800.3 billion to $798.3 billion).

Major cuts in capital spending were felt by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security ($220 million); Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries ($403 million); Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development ($809 million); Ministry of National Security ($213 million); and the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, which saw a reduction by some $267 million.

On the recurrent expenditure side, the science, energy and technology ministry's figures, however, went up by $1.8 billion to $6 billion, which was influenced primarily by efforts to digitise the public school system; and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries by some $284 million.

The estimates are to be reviewed by the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), when it next meets, and a report sent to the House of Representatives to enable the debate on the measures, which will serve to confirm the adjustments in spending.

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