Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
The shadowy Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) and its equally vague sister ‘Jamaica Employ’ – two job-creating schemes touted by the Portia Simpson Miller-led government – are expected to be fleshed out when Cabinet goes into retreat starting this afternoon.
Also high on the agenda for the Cabinet ministers will be crafting a new expenditure plan for the fiscal year in the wake of revenue dramatically lower than projected over the past nine months.
The two-day retreat, to be held at Jamaica House, would also see the Cabinet members deciding on the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure which are to be tabled in Parliament shortly.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips has already admitted the Government would have to cut planned expenditure, but with revenue running more than six per cent or $15.4 billion below projections, the Cabinet will have its work cut out to make the changes.
The lower-than-projected revenue will also have to be taken into account as the Cabinet uses the retreat to begin considering the Budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Several other weighty matters will also be on the agenda for the retreat, the first by the Simpson Miller Cabinet.
According to Minister with Responsibility for Information Sandrea Falconer, “Plans for the engagement of a new economic programme through the preparation of the fiscal programme for the rest of the fiscal year and for the medium term 2012-2013 and 2012-2016,” will also be discussed during the retreat.
“This will form the basis for continued discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which you know we have started,” said Falconer.
IMF talks to continue
Phillips is slated to travel to Washington days after the retreat for talks with officials of the IMF and other multinational agencies before an IMF team returns to Kingston at the end of this month for further talks to set the parameters for negotiations on a new agreement.
The agreement is to be crafted in line with Jamaica’s medium-term fiscal programme, and Falconer told journalists that the plan – which was formulated by the previous administration within the context of the fiscal responsibility framework – will also be reviewed during the retreat.
“The priority programme and projects for 2012-2013 will also be determined,” added Falconer.
Issues such as the Jamaica Infrastructure Development Programme, an alternative energy source, and how to treat with the haemorrhaging Jamaica Urban Transit Company are also expected to be discussed at the retreat.