Sat | Aug 19, 2017

We have made bad choices, Holness tells CDB meeting

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2016 | 5:42 PM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking with Tracy Ebanks, general manager of the Cayman IslandsDevelopment Bank at the banks Board of Governors in Montego Bay, St James this morning.

WESTERN BUREAU:
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has conceded that some regional countries have made bad choices which have impeded their growth.

In fact, he says many of the territories have "incredible" growth potential, but are still threatened by debt and structural vulnerability which they must strive to overcome.

"Some of us have made bad choices which have resulted in high public debt and in Jamaica's case the socialisation of private debt has been a major contributor," Holness said this morning at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank in Montego Bay, St James.

However, he said the region's accumulation of debt cannot all be attributed to profligacy, mismanagement and poor governance.

"Much of the debt that we carry has been as a result of our vulnerabilities to natural disasters and due to the exposure of our undiversified economies to the vagaries of commodity price volatility," he said.

Holness said Jamaica has shown that a societal resolve to economic reforms structured around debt reduction, is an attainable goal.

"While we remain vulnerable, important strides have been made.  However, Jamaica's economy has also shown that such strategies in isolation are insufficient.  No-growth austerity is unsustainable and not an option; economic growth is paramount," the Prime Minister said.

He said the challenge for the Caribbean is to achieve economic stability, underlined by a sustainable path to debt reduction while pursuing policies that promote economic growth.  

- Claudia Gardner