The Government has earmarked $4.6 billion towards the construction of the new toll road from May Pen in Clarendon to Williamsfield in Manchester, which is expected to generate hundreds of jobs beginning this month.
Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, who made the announcement in Parliament yesterday, said that the project would involve the construction of bridges, box culverts and drainage structures.
Debating the Second Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, which was approved by the House, Clarke said that local aggregate suppliers would be called on to supply all such material for the project.
“We will see more than a hundred truckers being employed in transporting material through the construction phase of this project,” he told his parliamentary colleagues.
Clarke reported that the economy is expected to plunge by 7.9 per cent and that the debt-to-GDP ratio would increase to about 103 per cent.
“We have not borrowed any more. The pernicious nature of debt in a small economy – open, fragile, undiversified – is such that with the onset of a global pandemic like this, without any careless action on our part, without any borrowing in a reckless way, our debt-to-GDP ratio climbs by 10 points,” he asserted.
“We need to do all that we can to contain its further rise,” the finance minister said.
The Government has increased expenditure by $15.7 billion in the Second Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure.
“The Budget that the Government has put forward contains the maximum amount of increased expenditure that we think is consistent with responding to the crisis on the one hand and on the other hand not losing the sustainability that we have worked so hard to achieve.”
Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding suggested that the Government could take advantage of the low interest rates on the local or international markets to inject more stimuli in an economy that was on a downward spiral. He also said that the funds sourced could be used as social expenditure to address the dire situation faced by vulnerable Jamaicans.
Source : The Jamaican Gleaner