Simpson Miller 'irresponsible'

Published: Wednesday | July 15, 2009

Dalton Laing, Gleaner Writer

Audley Shaw (right) presents Keith Barnes, Jamaica Labour Party candidate for the Cornwall Mountain division, at Mackfield, Westmoreland, last Thursday. - Photo by Dalton Laing

Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland:

Even before an extensive statement released on the weekend, Finance Minister Audley Shaw blasted Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller last Thursday night in response to criticism of his handling of the Government's bid to resume borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Shaw, campaigning ahead of the Cornwall Mountain division by-election in Westmoreland held yesterday, said he would not allow Jamaica to miss out on the opportunity to cash in on the US$750-million boost, pledged by the Group of 20 nations earlier this year, to buttress IMF lending to developing nations which had been hit hard by the global economic recession.

The minister said it was imperative for the Government to close the projected foreign-exchange gap for the current fiscal year, which he put at US$1.3 billion, caused largely by the shutdown of players in the local bauxite industry in response to low global demand, as well as moderate tourism figures.

"You telling me that so much money is at IMF and we are losing so much and we mustn't get some?

"She ought to be ashamed of herself for that statement. She is being irresponsible," Shaw said of Simpson Miller during his speech to Jamaica Labour Party supporters in Mackfield last Thursday night.

Shaw was recently criticised by the Opposition for not leading the IMF talks, instead delegating that responsibility to his subordinate, outgoing Minister without Portfolio Donald Wehby. The Opposition has also charged that the Government has not declared the full details on the logistics underpinning a new IMF relationship.