It’s a 641 billion dollar budget!

Finance Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, tabled the 2015-2016 Estimates of Expenditure in Parliament today.

The Estimates revealed a real increase in spending of approximately 13-percent when inflation is taken into account.

The Simpson-Miller administration says it plans to spend 641-billion dollars in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

This is a significant increase of just over 102-billion dollars or almost 19 percent more than the amount it spent last  fiscal year ending March 31.

With 12-month inflation running at approximately 5 percent, that amounts to a real increase of 13 percent.

The big jump in planned expenditure immediately raises questions about whether the administration is relaxing its tight grip on spending in light of a looming general election.

Total recurrent expenditure, which covers housekeeping expenses such as salaries and interest on government debt, is projected to be just under 433-billion dollars.

This is 67 percent of the total budget and is an increase of 27 billion dollars or 6 percent.

The total Capital Budget, which covers spending on infrastructure, is projected to be approximately 209 billion dollars.

This represents a big jump in Capital Spending of 75 billion dollars or 56 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.

As usual, the lion’s share of the budget is allocated to the Ministry of Finance and Planning and its related departments.¬† They are getting just over 381-billion dollars.

This is almost 97-billion dollars or 34 percent more than was allocated to this ministry last year.

Just under 132-billion dollars of the Finance Ministry’s allocation has been set aside for interest payments on public debt.

This is the same amount allocated for this item in the previous year.

The Education Ministry receives the second highest allocation totaling just over 81-billion dollars – an increase of only 1 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, the National Security Ministry receives the third largest allocation of just under 52 billion dollars – down by almost 1 billion dollars compared to the previous year.

The 2015/16 Budget Debate will begin on March 12 in the House, with the Finance Minister making his presentation. On March 17, Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Mr. Audley Shaw, will make his contribution.

The debate continues on March 19, with Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Andrew Holness, presenting.

The government also tabled Revenue Estimates for the 2015-2016 fiscal year in Parliament today.

It’s projecting that it will rake in just 577-billion dollars from revenues and loan receipts.

This is 65 billion dollars less than the 641-billion dollars it’s planning to spend.

The 577-billion dollars is also 145 billion dollars more than the amount it targeted in the previous fiscal year.

We’ll have more on the revenue numbers in subsequent newscasts.