JAMAICA-Opposition critical of government’s economic policies

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The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is expressing concern about what it termed the “under-performance” of the Jamaican economy.

In a statement, the PNP said that data provided by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) showing a growth rate of 0.8 per cent for the third calendar quarter of 2017, meant that the island recorded an average growth rate of a meagre 0.26 per cent during the first three quarters of 2017.

Mark Golding
Mark Golding (File Photo)

“It is disappointing and, indeed, worrying that in 2017, which is the second year in the Economic Growth Council’s four-year ‘5-in-4′ target period, Jamaica is heading for a growth rate of less than one per cent for the calendar year,” said Shadow Minister for Finance and Planning Mark Golding.

He said after nearly two years in office, the Andrew Holness government has failed to maintain the improvement in Jamaica’s growth performance that commenced under the previous administration.

“The development of the BPO sector, the build-out of new rooms in the hotel sector, the re-opening of Alpart, the divestment and expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal, the strategic shift to LNG and renewables in the energy sector, and the modernisation of the country’s tax collection capacity, are all solid achievements of the previous administration, which stabilised the nation’s public finances and built the foundation for sustained economic growth.

“While continuity of good policies is essential, over the past two years the Government should have built on the strong growth platform which they inherited, but has failed to do so,” said Golding, noting the government’s inability to tackle the sustained spike in murders” which he said “is negatively impacting Jamaica’s prospects, and constitutes a dismal failure of the current Administration, garnished by the foul odour of corruption from the used car scandal.

“In the meantime, the uncertainty of the outcome of the protracted and incompetently handled public sector wage negotiations is putting the nation’s fiscal targets at risk, and is inimical to confident economic decision-making that is necessary to drive investment and growth,“ said Golding.

The PNP said it was also calling on the government to take appropriate action to avoid further slippage in the national mission to achieve high levels of growth to support sustainable and inclusive national development.

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