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Govt announces $ 60 billion social and economic recovery program




The government will spend $ 60 billion to implement a Social and Economic Repair and Vaccine Program for Jamaica (SERVE), which will provide the foundation for the country’s economic recovery starting next fiscal year.

Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, made the discovery while presenting the 2021/22 Expenditure Estimates in the House of Representatives on 18 February.

He said the program would be eased, in part, through a one-time $ 33 billion dividend from the Bank of Jamaica, which is expected in the first week of April.

Under SERVE, $ 10.5 billion in specific resources will be made available to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, including $ 6 billion for vaccines; $ 1 billion for personal protective equipment (PPE); $ 1 billion for drugs and reagents; $ 2 billion for Regional Health Authorities (RHAs); and $ 500 million for additional expenses related to Covid additional cleaning, catering and security.

Based on current prices and supply, we are making forecasts for the Government to be able to fund the procurement and completion of coronavirus vaccination for two million Jamaicans [double dose or single dose depending on the specific vaccine requirements], Dr. Clarke told the Chamber.

The government will allocate funds, under the Jamaica SERVE Program, to make achieving herd immunity in a single fiscal year fiscally feasible. The rest depends on the availability of supply, logistics and distribution, all the Ministry of Health will address soon, he added.

SERVE also includes a $ 31.1 billion allocation for an infrastructure program to boost jobs and economic activity, improve productivity and strengthen sustainability, including the $ 17.7 billion South Coast Highway Project.

About $ 8 billion will be spent on a separate public investment infrastructure program to improve productivity and increase sustainability through the installation of canals, widening and dualization of major roads, and construction of sidewalks.

In addition, the program will provide $ 3.7 billion for road repairs across Jamaica; $ 1.2 billion for Montego Bay Bypass; and $ 0.5 billion for the construction of the new Westmoreland police division headquarters and a new forensic pathology suite.

Also under SERVE, about $ 5 billion has been allocated for targeted funding for pandemic-affected businesses; $ 1.7 billion for rural farm roads and productivity incentives to boost agriculture; and $ 1.8 billion to expand Wi-Fi and broadband in schools and communities, particularly in rural areas.

The program will also provide $ 8.1 billion in targeted social support above and beyond what is typically offered, which will target vulnerable and those who have fallen through difficult times as a result of the COVID pandemic.

He further said that about $ 0.7 billion has been earmarked for the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to complete the construction of the Indoor Beach Park and other activities and $ 0.8 billion for other ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) .

Dr. Clarke said SERVE will boost the country’s economic recovery. Jamaica will recover; Jamaica will recover stronger, he added.

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