Golding defends fiscal policies
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
PRIME MINISTER Bruce Golding on Tuesday deflected criticisms of his administration's performance last year, arguing that the Government's efforts had to be assessed against the back-ground of severe global economic meltdown.
Golding argued that the Opposition was out of step with reality when it criticised the Government for presiding over a 2.7 per cent contraction in the economy for the last financial year.
Making his contribution to the Budget Debate in Gordon House, the prime minister said the decline in the economy last year should be put in perspective.
According to Golding, one-third of the country's export earnings was wiped out last year when the global market for bauxite and alumina collapsed.
"Of the 2.7 per cent that the economy declined last year, bauxite and alumina accounted for 1.9 per cent of it," he said.
A matter of concern
Conceding that Jamaicans were facing hardships, Golding said the increase in the unemployment rate from 10.6 per cent to 11.4 per cent was a matter of real concern to the administration.
"No one needs to dramatise for us the hardship that the people are going through," Golding asserted.
He said the effects of the global economic meltdown not only affected Jamaica but impacted on the United Kingdom with a decline of 4.9 per cent; Japan, 5.7 per cent; and Trinidad and Tobago, three per cent.
Golding also suggested that Jamaica was in good company when it revised many of its targets and projections last year.
"The World Bank, IMF (Interna-tional Monetary Fund) and the Federal Reserve were all forced to revise downwards their GDP projections for last year, not just once, but, in the case of the IMF, three times, and two of the three times still got it wrong," he said.