KINGSTON, Jamaica– Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica’s strong performance in revenue increases has been gobbled away as the country seeks to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has killed 2,110 and infected 87 389 others since the first case was recorded here in March last year.
Holness told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that all ministry budgets have been “impacted” to reallocate resources for the health challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Even though we have an increase in revenues, those increases in revenues have been essentially absorbed by the requirements for managing the pandemic. We have increased funding of several billion dollars (One Jamaica dollar = 0.008 cents) directly to health for COVID management, but we have also increased our social safety net allocations,” Holness said.
He said there is still “great demand” for resources to respond to natural disasters such as heavy rains that impacted the island earlier this year and last year.
But Holness said COVID has taken up funds that would have gone to other deserving areas of national life and pleaded with citizens to get vaccinated so that the country can return to normalcy.
“The pandemic has caused a reallocation of resources away from other areas of use, into the management of the [crisis], and I believe that Jamaicans would appreciate that the quicker we are out of the pandemic, the better our resource allocation would be to deal with garbage collection, and more resources into education, and crime-fighting,” Holness said.
The government recently disclosed that over the next few months, it would be spending J$3.75 billion to assist 350,000 Jamaicans who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, from a budget of J$33 billion that will go towards critical areas due to the pandemic.
Holness said that the pandemic has “created a real distraction and diversion” of resources away from other vital challenges that the country faces and that the focus must be on ending the crisis.