Tue | Sep 17, 2019

PNP president slams finance minister for FOREX policy

Published:Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

PRESIDENT OF the People's National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips, has contended that the Government is pursuing bad economic policy as it relates to the country's exchange rate, arguing that the slippage of the dollar against its US counterpart has caused greater hardship on the poor.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has sought to downplay the impact the slippage has had on prices overall, pointing to the low inflation of 3.2 per cent which had been recorded in the quarter ended July.

Clarke had said it is government policy to have a fully flexible exchange rate going forward. He said it would result in more attention being paid to the average Jamaican who uses local currency to close transactions.

However, Phillips said the Government is flip-flopping on its policy.

"All of a sudden, the dollar start fly. The minister before said him going to stabilise it. A next one come and the dollar start move, saying him change the policy," the PNP president said at his constituency conference at Tarrant High School in St Andrew on Sunday.

Phillips said the Jamaican dollar in June was approximately J$127 to US$1, and in August, it moved to J$137 to US$1 as he sought to highlight the rapid movement.

"Not because we short of US dollars in the country; not because our exporters say they can't sell things because the prices in Jamaica too high; not because we have a crisis paying our bill; simply because of wrong policies," the former finance minister told Comrades.

"Then them tell us it not going to mek life harder for the people of the country," Phillips added. "What kind of foolishness is that?" he further questioned.

The PNP president said the Government was not managing and it was time "to usher them out".

Phillips, in the meantime, blasted the Andrew Holness administration, saying its vision of development does not include the ordinary people of the country.

Phillips cited controversies surrounding the Constant Spring Market, while also highlighting what he claims is the absence of space for taxis in the recently completed Barbican Square in North East St Andrew.