Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Opposition wants more growth, less poverty

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The parliamentary Opposition yesterday said that while it was commendable that Jamaica had completed the IMF programme, concerns still lingered over achieving stronger growth as well as reducing poverty.

“The recent trends are not encouraging,” Mark Golding, opposition spokesman on finance, said in a release yesterday. “GDP growth for the second quarter of 2019 was 1%, falling from 1.7% in the first quarter.”

He continued: “The lay-offs and impending closure of Alpart, the duration of which is uncertain, will have a further dampening effect on economic growth. Similarly, this year’s adverse weather conditions may well impact negatively on growth in agriculture, underscoring the need for measures to mitigate the ongoing effects of climate change.”

Golding charged that “prosperity remains an illusion for all but the privileged few”, citing data that the country’s poverty rate had increased in 2017.

“Beyond the short term, Jamaica needs to accelerate the flow of credit to the productive sector, especially MSMEs, strengthen market linkages between local producers and the tourism sector, and channel capital expenditure to build the agricultural sector’s resilience to climate change.

“We must also invest more in relevant education and training to increase national productivity, accompanied by transformational social policies to tackle the fundamental causes of crime and violence, which is the major inhibitor to economic growth and sustainable development,” Golding added. “In the post-IMF era, it cannot be business as usual if Jamaica is to get out of the rut of low growth, national despair amidst increasing poverty, and intolerable levels of violent crime.”