The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) has identified significant investment in capital expenditure on infrastructure as among the major policy shifts in the government’s national budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024.
Executive Director of CAPRI Dr Damien King, who presented the the think-tank’s breakdown of the budget at The UWI Regional Headquarters, in Mona, St Andrew explained,”The capital expenditure of the budget is a key metric that we need to look at, and, in recent years, there has been a welcome increase in capital expenditure. It was instructed by the pandemic, but one take-away from this budget is a return to significant levels of capital expenditure. The numbers presented on this chart are adjusted for inflation. So what this means is that the $911 billion of expected revenue in real terms, in purchasing power terms is the highest, is the greatest amount of revenue that will have been experienced,” Dr King said.
According to the economist, who referenced the example of Flat Bridge in St Catherine, starting about the time of Independence,Jamaica has consistently under-invested in its economic infrastructure, such as roads, ports and public buildings.
""All of the (vehicular) traffic between the capital city and the north coast came down at one point into a single lane. Not in each direction, for both directions that was built for horse and cart in the 18th century. And, when previous governments were faced with that literal economic constraint, that bottleneck, the solution was a traffic light. It was, ‘you must wait’."
Dr King also highlighted the impressive reduction in public debt, which has been reduced from 145 per cent of gross domestic production 11 years ago, to 80 per cent and is projected to end the fiscal year at 74 per cent.
"So we concluded that given that projection, the budget presented is credible and sustainable. One important implication of this is the share of interest in total spending. There was a time when interest took up 40 per cent of Jamaica’s government spending, so one welcome result of this fiscal responsibility has been the fairly consistent fall in the share of government expenditure going towards interest payments. And in the fiscal year (it) is projected to be at a historical low at 17 per cent."