Jamaica: For the upcoming fiscal year, Jamaica will invest $114 billion or approximately six percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in education.
Opening the 2021/22 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 9, Minister of Finance & the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, said that the Government continues to allocate the largest share of its Budget, outside of debt repayment, to education.
He noted that even in the worst health crisis in 100 years, Jamaica continues to place education as its number-one priority expenditure.
“Education expenditure will represent approximately 21 percent of non-debt expenditure. So one dollar out of every five that we spend on non-debt expenditure goes to education. That is prioritization by the Jamaican State,” he said.
Dr. Clarke noted that the six percent of GDP allocated to education puts Jamaica within the upper echelons in the world.
He said that this is more than Singapore, which spends approximately three percent of GDP on education and also more than the island’s upper-middle-income peers, which spend, on average, four percent of GDP.
Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke informed that by the close of the school year, which ends in June 2021, the Government of Jamaica would have distributed a total of 122,831 digital devices to PATH students and non-PATH needy students at the cost of approximately $3.9 billion.
He added that this includes an amount of $805 million allocated in the fiscal year beginning on April 1.
Dr. Clarke said that the Government remains committed to placing the education of young people as a central priority with adequate funding and support. “That is our goal and mission as we recover stronger,” he noted.
Overall, the Government is proposing to spend a total of $830.8 billion for the 2021/22 fiscal year.
This is comprised of Non-Debt Expenditure of $541.3 billion; Debt Service Expenditure of $272.2 billion; and Loans to Public Bodies of $17.3 billion.
Dr. Clarke said the programmed Central Government Non-Debt Expenditure for the financial year 2021/22 of $541.3 billion reflects an increase of $23 billion or 4.4 percent relative to the financial year 2020/21 Non-Debt Third Supplementary Estimate of $518.3 billion.
The Central Government’s Non-Debt Expenditure consists of Recurrent Expenditure of $487.1 billion and Capital Expenditure of $54.2 billion.
In turn, Recurrent Expenditure is comprised of expenditure for the compensation of public-sector employees as well as Recurrent Programme Expenditure.
Dr. Clarke said Compensation of Employees accounts for $239.2 billion or 49.1 percent of the Recurrent Expenditure Budget, inclusive of $7.7 billion towards the expected adjustment in public-sector wages during the fiscal year 2021/22 and $1.8 billion to settle arrears in Employers Contribution to the National Housing Trust.
He noted, as well, that the Recurrent Programme allocation of $247.8 billion accounts for 50.9 percent of total Recurrent Expenditure and reflects a nominal increase of $6.4 billion or 2.6 percent above the Revised Estimates for the fiscal year 2020/21.
“Notwithstanding the fiscal challenges, the Government continues to prioritize expenditure to support the delivery of services to Jamaicans,” he said.
Ramanjot Kaur is a dedicated journalist with a Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication, specializing in economic and political news reporting with incisive analysis and integrity.