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JLP to tell the people about its plans for the economy

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 5:00 AMMcPherse Thompson
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness said the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will be launching a series of public discussions to advise the people about the thinking of the party's Economic Advisory Council on the way forward for the country.

Noting comments in the media regarding the work of the council, he said, "quite a bit of work goes on behind the scenes so that when we make our economic pronouncements, they are based on research. They are based on sound economic theory, and they are guided by the practical experience and knowledge of persons who have worked in the financial, economic and business sectors, and that have guided us to have a very practical economic outlook for Jamaica."

The JLP had been criticised for not coming out publicly to say what would be its approach to economic growth, having established the council some time ago to address that and other issues, and if they would be different from the incumbent People's National Party, were it to form the next government.

Need for growth

Holness, addressing a press conference at the JLP's Belmont Road, New Kingston, headquarters yesterday, said that Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw, others in the party and himself have on several occasions, spoken about the need for economic growth.

"When I hear criticisms and comments about what would the JLP do different, privately, I say within myself, these people don't read because we have put out on numerous occasions what it is we plan to do," he said.

Referring, for example, to the drought problem now being experienced by farmers in the breadbasket parish of St Elizabeth, Holness asked, "how do you solve the water problem to create agricultural output, which [would] solve the unemployment problem, [and] which [would] help to solve your crime problem? These are the kind of creative thinking that our council is doing and I want to assure the nation that we are not wasting our time."

He said they were doing the work and "will also be investing in direct communication. We will be launching our own series of public discussions. By the end of this month, you'll hear more about that," he said.

"I think it is time that we go on the road and tell the people of Jamaica exactly what is the problem and how they can be a part of the solution," he added.

According to Holness, who also focused on the Government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), much of what has been said so far about Jamaica's economic outlook has been coloured through the lens of passing the IMF tests. "In fact, if you listen carefully to the Government the only economic success that they can point to is passing the IMF tests," the Opposition Leader emphasised.

He said "we take serious note of what is said in the press by commentators. And I want my position and the party's position to be absolutely clear. Passing the IMF tests, maintaining good relationships with our international funding partners and maintaining a strong, robust and prudent fiscal policy position is absolutely important."

However, "that in itself does not make a strong economy; that in itself does not qualify a

government for success in

economic terms," he said.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com