Jamaica to Spend Billions to Support Citizens Affected By High Cost of Living

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica's government says it intends to spend an estimated J$2.7 billion (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) to provide support to citizens who are most adversely affected by the high cost of living.

clanrkeDr. Nigel ClarkeFinance and the Public Service Minister, Dr.  Nigel Clarke said the new funding totals J$3.8 billion in social intervention expenditure, of which J$1.1 billion is already accounted for in the 2022/2023 budget.

Clarke told legislators that J$750 million has been allocated for Independence clean-up of parish capitals (major town centers) of which J$550 million will be allocated to the National Solid Waste Management Authority, and J$189 million through Members of Parliament via the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

“Amounts allocated via the Constituency Development Fund can be used for beautification, bushing and drain cleaning and for activities related to Jamaica 60,” Clarke said.

A total of $150 million has been allocated for the trucking of water to areas experiencing water challenges due to the erratic nature of rainfall island wide. Main focus will be on the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, and Portland, but not limited to these parishes.

Clarke told the Lower House on Tuesday that this will be facilitated through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development (MLGCD), adding that J$550 million has been provided in general welfare support for non-Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) beneficiaries.

Clarke said J$189 million will be provided through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS); J$189 million through the Constituency Development Fund for welfare and economic enablement activities; J$70 million through municipal corporations for welfare and economic support; J$52 million for the Poor Relief through MLGRD and J$50 million through the MLSS Public Assistance Department.

The government is also spending J$550 million for pensioners at the bottom of the income ladder; J$450 million will be for approximately 45,000 National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pensioners who receive amounts of J$15,000 or less per month and J$100 million for 10,000 social pensioners.

The government is also providing J$1.789 billion in back-to-school one-off grants and Clarke said through the MLSS, the government will be directing J$1.6 billion to 160,000 PATH school-aged children.

“So, in addition to the regular PATH benefits, come August the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will be in a position to send through $1.6 billion to all PATH families where they will get J$10,000 per student. So, if a family on PATH has three students, it will be J$30, 000.”

He said also J$189 million will be provided in back-to-school education grants and assistance to non-PATH vulnerable students through the CDF.

“Each Member of Parliament should consult with the director of the CDF to be guided on the administration for these additional activities,” Clarke said.

The incremental $2.7 billion expenditure will initially be funded by advances from existing budgeted resources. These advances will be cleared following regularization of the expenditure in the First Supplementary Estimates 2022/23.