JLP Gov't inherits $50b in arrears
The Andrew Holness administration says it has inherited "a mountain of domestic arrears" of almost $50 billion from the previous People's National Party administration.
State Minister for Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams made the disclosure yesterday during her maiden Sectoral Debate contribution.
She said the bills, totalling $23.9 billion, are owed to businesses and government entities.
"These bills are for goods and services that were consumed long ago, but they now compete for payment with the limited resources in the current Budget," she said to heckling from members of the Opposition benches.
Williams, the St Andrew Eastern representative, also revealed that the Holness administration also inherited $21.7 billion of tax refund arrears payments.
Those taxes are to be refunded to persons from whom the Government collected. She said, however, that could not be done because of "limited resources".
"These obligations represent approximately three per cent of GDP, [which if released] into the economy would significantly improve the growth agenda in the quarters to come," the state minister argued.
Opposition Spokesman on Finance Dr Peter Phillips told The Gleaner that while there were domestic arrears under the fiscal consolidation programme associated with the International Monetary Fund, there was an understanding that there would be efforts at containment so "there would be no increase".
"We (PNP administration) inherited arrears from the previous [JLP 2007-2011] administration. We reduced the arrears that were there - both on the tax front and on the payment front. We built up no arrears in payments contrary to the programme that we had. It was a part of fiscal consolidation which had to be dealt with," he explained.
Last year, there were several protests by public-sector workers over the non-payment of salary deductions by central Government.
Some public entities had also complained about sums owed to them by the Government.