Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Debt still a millstone on economy – Henry

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2019 | 1:08 AM

Pressed for an explanation for the country’s lower-than-expected economic growth, despite booms in pockets across several sectors, director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry, has blamed high debt and the limited diversity of the economy as inhibiting factors.

“We’ve had a had a high level of public debt. To run a country to provide social services and improve quality of life, we’ve been hindered by our high debt,” Henry said on Wednesday during The University of the West Indies, Mona, Research Days.

“We have had to have this obligation to service, to pay large amounts of money for the high debt, with not much left over beyond paying the public sector and serving economy – fixing hospitals roads, and so on,” he said.

The PIOJ director general said that there was need for greater diversification of the Jamaican economy.

“We have a lot of activities going on in relatively few sectors. We are really happy for them and how they perform, but the truth is, as you are building a more resilient economy, you want more diversification,” he said.

“That’s why it is important to facilitate more entrepreneurship and increase and make more access to finance better.”

Henry also championed an expansion of interest and programmes in science and engineering to drive innovation.

“We want to see more persons in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering to try to build out [capacity] in terms of productivity, and so we think that’s important,” he added.