Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Holness bats for growth czar

Published:Monday | July 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

With much-needed economic growth continuing to be an elusive goal for successive administrations, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has sounded the rallying call for a 'growth czar'.

"Jamaica needs a growth czar, and it doesn't have to be the prime minister," declared Holness in a column submitted and published inside today's Gleaner.

He suggested that protracted economic stagnation can be stymied with the appointment of a growth czar/minister of growth.

Holness also suggested the much-vaunted growth policy is not well-understood and warned that growth will not emanate from austere measures implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The opposition leader accused the Government of only paying lip service to economic growth.

"Only in Jamaica is there such great optimism among economic policymakers that fiscal discipline will result in growth," he declared.

Holness pointed to what he described as three important pillars of economic management.

Monetary policy, he argued, focuses on controlling inflation and interest rates, and is largely the domain of the Bank of Jamaica.

LITTLE UNDERSTOOD

He suggested that fiscal policy, which focuses on taxation, government spending, and the deficit or surplus between the two, is largely the domain of the finance minister.

"There is the much-talked about, but little understood and used, growth policy," said Holness.

He said that among other things, the growth policy is intended to deal with investment promotion, market creation, innovation, business support and the coordination and logistics between the various other elements which comprise economic management.

Although this is a shared responsibility in the Jamaican context, Holness said that growth policy resides in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, along with agencies such as JAMPRO.

"But we are not sure who leads it," he asserted.

According to Holness, the Jamaican electorate conventionally holds their Government to account for jobs, health care, education, wages, higher taxes and the like.

"But I cannot recall lack of growth, per se, showing up in polls as a high-priority concern," he said. "In fact, there is a sense that growth is an unattainable objective."