Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Holness says Jamaica could exceed four-year growth target

Published:Monday | November 7, 2016 | 11:06 PM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) speaks with Group Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank Patrick Hylton at the signing of a declaration of intent at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew. In the background is Sandals CEO Adam Stewart - Patrick Planter photo

Jovan Johnson, Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said economic growth in four years could exceed the five per cent target set by his administration.

Holness has established an Economic Growth Council (ECG) that has a mandate to help the Government achieve five per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in four years.

On Monday night, addressing the signing of a declaration of intent to implement the EGC proposals, Holness said Jamaica "deserved results" and said the so-called '5 in 4' target could be exceeded.

He noted the sacrifices made by Jamaicans under the four-year deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"There's no question about it. We will grow and we will probably grow faster than five percent. The world is now paying attention," Holness said pointing to the tough measures imposed under the IMF deal.

"This government will make sure that we are faithful to the sacrifices that the people have paid. We deserve results. We will make Jamaica the great country that we were destined to be."

Holness' projection comes a week after finance minister Audley Shaw reported that Jamaica recorded 2.3  per cent growth for the July to September quarter, the highest in a single quarter since 2002.

But crime continues to impede growth with calls for funds to be diverted from fulfilling the tax-break election promise to provide more resources to the security forces.

Nevertheless, a confident EGC chairman, Michael Lee-Chin re-asserted that the growth target will be achieved.

"I wouldn't have stuck my neck out," he said when asked if the target will be met.

He pointed to favourable indicators such as low energy and telecom prices, the support of the international financial institutions, the opposition and the Government.

Holness established the EGC in April to propose growth initiatives and monitor their implementation.

Some of them have been included in the proposed standby agreement that the board of the International Monetary Fund is to consider this month.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica has projected 1.7 per cent GDP growth this fiscal year.

Over last 20 years, Jamaica has averaged GDP growth of 0.5 per cent per annum.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com