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Senate gives Gov’t authority to spend

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The Government now has the authority to spend funds allocated in the 2019/20 Estimates of Expenditure, following the passage of the Appropriation Act 2019 in the Upper House last Friday.

This annual Bill provides authority for expenditure (other than statutory expenditure) for the financial year 2019/20, and specifies the manner in which the money is to be allocated to the various services and for the purposes of the Government.

The Bill was approved following a five-hour-long debate in the Senate, with senators from both sides making contributions.

Piloting the legislation, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Pearnel Charles Jnr noted that this is “a budget for every single Jamaican, regardless of their status or income bracket”.

“This budget is a reflection of the positive strides that we have made, and though we still have much to do as a nation, we are certainly taking control of our future,” he said.

He pointed out that the budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year will involve and engage all Jamaicans.

“It is clear that this Administration, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is capable and willing to take the bold [and] creative actions required for this country to take control of its future and maximise its potential,” Senator Charles Jr added.

The Foreign Affairs state minister noted that the budget illustrates the Government’s commitment to good fiscal management.

“We have had low stable inflation for four years and the lowest inflation rates as an independent country — this is the emergence of a new Jamaica. Domestic interest rates are at levels never seen before,” Senator Charles Jr said.

“The central bank has lowered the policy rate four times this fiscal year, to a record low of 1.5 per cent in February 2019. Interest rates for individuals and businesses have been lowered, which means that many… are now able to access single-digit interest rates from Jamaican-dollar loans,” he added.

He noted that the low interest rates are allowing individuals and Jamaican businesses to borrow and invest.

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