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Phillips blasts Government over handling of Jamaican dollar

Published:Wednesday | August 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
People's National Party President Dr Peter Phillips greets supporters as he arrives at the St Andrew South West constituency conference on Sunday.

Ignoring the call from Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke to take the foreign exchange debate off the political stage, Opposition Leader and President of the People's National Party, Dr Peter Phillips, last Sunday blasted the Government over its handling of the Jamaican dollar.

Addressing PNP supporters in South West St Andrew, Phillips criticised the Andrew Holness administration for not being able to hold the dollar steady.

According to Phillips, the explanation by the Government for the recent slide in the value of the dollar "shows that Prime Minister Holness is confused and guilty of 'flip-flopping'.

"When we were in office, he said the dollar shouldn't move. But the issue is not whether the dollar moves with us and the dollar move with them. Him said it shouldn't move, we never seh so.

"Him had a minister of finance, the one before this one, that said the dollar must not move. The dollar reached 132 (to US$1) and it revalue come to 126 (to US$1). The prime minister changed the minister of finance and the dollar start move. It start move like a racehorse a go round Caymanas Park Saturday evening time," said Phillips.

He argued that the value of the Jamaican dollar is expected to be stabilised as the economy steadies.

The PNP president also contended that the policy relating to the foreign exchange should be one for the Government and not an individual minister.

"It cannot be the policy of one minister of finance to hold it steady and another minister of finance to make it run. The left hand don't know what the right hand is doing, and the prime minister a give one reason and the minister of finance a give another reason.

"They don't know what they are doing and it is time to usher them out," added Phillips.

Late last month Clarke, in an interview with The Gleaner, expressed concern over what he described as the politicising of the exchange rate over the years.

"The movement in the exchange rate has long been politicised in Jamaica to the detriment of the Jamaican people. We have been fooled into seeing it as a proxy for economic health. We have somehow been led to believe that in the context of a floating-rate regime, appreciation is to be celebrated, and depreciation is bad.

"The fact is that in a floating-rate regime, the exchange rate will move up and down and is only one price in the economy. It affects some other prices for sure, but not to the degree that politicisation leads us to believe," said Clarke.