Sun | Feb 18, 2018

PM outlines doctrine of growth for Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | January 24, 2018 | 12:23 PMNeville Graham

JSE CAPITAL MARKETS CONFERENCE

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is touting a doctrine of growth to take Jamaica along a more fruitful development path.

He is urging the country to embrace this mantra in order for Jamaica to break out of decades of anaemic economic performance that has  delivered only one per cent annual growth on average for the last 40 years.

Addressing the opening of the 13th annual Investment and Capital Markets Conference hosted by the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Holness said the doctrine of growth must rest on the five pillars: macroeconomic stability and fiscal certainty, job creation, infrastructure renewal, public sector modernisation and crime management.

“We have to bring this concept of growth into the political economy, into the grass roots thinking. It has to become a part of our culture, and truthfully, after 40 years of no sustained significant growth there is a whole generation that would not have experienced the era of growth in the 50s and the 60s,” the Prime Minister said Tuesday night.

On the question of stability and fiscal certainty, Holness said it relates to more than lower taxes and positive indicators; it also means the government cannot take on commitments and make wild promises, engage in profligacy and overspending, or become overly populist.

The PM said there are signs of progress, given current indicators pointing to low inflation, a stable dollar and healthy net international reserves. He said Jamaica has sacrificed a lot across administrations to produce those results, including the decline in the debt to GDP ratio from 141 per cent to a projected 110 per cent by March 2018.

Regarding job creation, Holness said it is critical in protecting economic gains because it is a better way to distribute wealth or have persons share in positive developments. He argued that job creation is more sustainable than the creation and maintenance of a social safety net in that there is an ethos of dignity and self-reliance. At the same time he warned that in the face of historically high levels of employment, the supply of labour could be problematic.

“It appears that the labour market could be an impediment to growth in that we simply would not have enough work-ready labour to supply the immediate needs that are coming on,” Holness said.

He added that the public sector modernisation programme would have to align with private sector needs, by supporting adaptation to changing work environments.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com