Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-Chairman, Keith Duncan, is hopeful that Government’s future capital expenditure will increase if the buoyancy in tax and other revenue inflows recorded during the 2016/17 fiscal year continues.
Tax revenue inflows totalled $458.3 billion for the period. This was $18.3 billion more than the targeted $440 billion.
Additionally, non-borrowed reserves amounted to $1.936 billion, some $462 million more than the $1.474 billion targeted for the period.
This resulted in the Government generating a primary balance surplus of $135.9 billion for the 2016/17 fiscal year, which ended on March 31. This was $12.9 billion or 7.7 per cent above the minimum seven per cent target of $123 billion.
Speaking at EPOC’s quarterly briefing at the Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) Group head office in New Kingston on Friday (May 19), Mr. Duncan said Government’s overall expenditure totalled $503.4 billion. This, he noted, was $5 billion below the target of $508.3 billion.
He indicated that capital expenditure from this sum totalled $42 billion, which was $2.8 billion or 6.4 per cent less than budgeted.
Mr. Duncan said while the administration was able to close the gap during the last quarter of 2016/17, “we still lagged behind the budgetary expenditure.”
He emphasized that inadequacies in infrastructure such as drains that result in flooding, as was evident with the torrential rains that have lashed the island over the past several days, could significantly impact Jamaica over the long term.
“We know that capital expenditure is where we really need to increase the spend in order to ensure that we can stimulate growth through this line item,” Mr. Duncan stated
In this regard, he expressed the hope that “if the buoyancy in the tax revenues continues, (then) the capital expenditure that was budgeted (this year) would increase significantly over the next budget (and) we will have even more fiscal space so that we can really invest in the infrastructure and social services in our country.”