Self-financing public bodies to spend $71.9b on capital projects

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THE 2019/20 capital expenditure budget for the 56 self-financing public bodies (SFPB) is projected at $71.9 billion.

The sum is $13.5 billion more than the figure for 2018/19, which totalled approximately $58.4 billion, and is expected to result in the entities attaining an overall balance deficit of $3.2 billion over the period.

The amount is set out in the Government’s 2019/20 Fiscal Policy Paper, and Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which were tabled in the House of Representatives by Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke on February 14.

The documents indicate that the National Housing Trust (NHT), National Water Commission (NWC), Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), and Petrojam Limited are projected to account for approximately 80 per cent of the expenditure.

The NHT’s programmed spend, totalling $41.3 billion, is the largest of the entities.

Approximately $39.4 billion, or 95.4 per cent, is earmarked to finance the commencement of 8,640 housing units and serviced lots, and complete another 4,714.

This sum is just $2 billion more than the amount spent in 2018/19, which totalled $37.3 billion.

The 2019/20 expenditure and activities are part of the NHT’s thrust to complete 23,000 housing units and serviced lots by the end of the 2022/23 fiscal year.

The entity also plans to disburse approximately $28.2 billion over the new fiscal year under its build-on-own land, open market, and joint mortgage financed programmes, as well as for house lot loans.

The NWC’s budget of $7.15 billion, which is the second highest programmed expenditure, will focus on infrastructure rehabilitation.

This is expected to reduce the level of non-revenue water as well as operating costs, resulting in lower operational losses, eventual surpluses and improved efficiency and reliable service delivery over the medium term.

Key focus areas of expenditure include: $2.64 billion for meter replacement; and $1.2 billion for rehabilitation works under the K-Factor Programme.

Development projects are expected to account for approximately 76.4 per cent of the PAJ’s budget, with focus on engagements aimed at facilitating economic growth and development, as well as enhanced security at the island’s ports.

These include: phase one of the Port Royal Development, a logistics park in Kingston; completion of the Business Process Outsourcing facility in Portmore, St Catherine; and acquisition of a port community system.

Petrojam Limited has made provisions for the phase one commencement of the State oil refinery’s upgrade during 2019/20.

The entity plans to spend US$20 million to commence construction of a Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU).

Petrojam also projects to spend US$10.4 million for major maintenance works and rehabilitation of its storage tanks.

Meanwhile, the Fiscal Policy Paper indicates that the 56 SFPBs are projected to generate revenue of approximately $406 billion in 2019/20.

Over the period, the group is expected to transfer some $16.7 billion in financial distributions and programme support, and remit $45.7 billion in Special Consumption, Ad Valorem and Corporate Taxes to the Government, while approximately $17.2 billion will be transferred to certain entities.

Among the transfer beneficiaries are: the Students’ Loan Bureau, through support from the Education Tax; and the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, via fare subsidy/operational support.

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