Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Phillips says Jamaica on right path
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips has declared that Jamaica's economy is heading in the right direction.
Phillips, who yesterday made a statement in the House of Representatives about the country's financial situation and the pace of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has said the nation's poor macro-economic figures are an inheritance from the previous government.
"The first quarter of this year ending March, in the growth numbers saw a decline. You had 0.5 per cent decline. That is the inheritance from the period that went before," Phillips told the House.
"This quarter it is flat, relatively, but it is 0.1 per cent up, which in effect means that there has been an upward movement quarter-to-quarter of 0.6 per cent. Nothing to crow about but it is heading in the right direction," Phillips added.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness had charged the Govern-ment inherited an already built economic medium-term programme. With that declaration, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller exclaimed, "What?!"
But it was Phillips, who was on his feet, who addressed the matter.
"It cannot be said that we inherited a programme for the simple fact that the targets and deadlines which were in your programme had been breached," he said.
"What we needed to do was to recast a programme that involves much sharper adjustments than was necessary. For example, it had been agreed that the primary surplus target under your programme was to have been six per cent for the fiscal year ending March 2012.
"The outturn was three per cent which meant we had to do a programme which involved much sharper adjustments than otherwise would have been necessary," Phillips added.
The finance minister also told the House that the Simpson Miller-led Cabinet spent much of Monday deliberating on how to achieve growth in the economy.