Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips has declared that opposition spokespersons, who should know better, have been making ill-informed statements about Government's discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Phillips said suggestions that the Government was unable to conclude negotiations with the IMF only serve to aggravate unnecessarily the real challenges in the economy.
"For whatever reason these statements are made, they are potentially damaging to the efforts being made to restore Jamaica's economic stability," the minister said.
He told Parliament that the Government could not have made faster progress on the negotiations with the IMF until "we make real progress on the structural reforms that were agreed under the standby agreement and which were abandoned by the last administration," Phillips said.
Aware of concerns
The minister said the Government was aware there has been skittishness in the markets. He also said the Government is not unaware of significant economic challenges facing Jamaicans.
"This administration is more than aware of the genuine concerns of ordinary Jamaicans, workers, business people, investors and the Diaspora about developments in the economy and issues relating to the IMF," Phillips said.
He said the Government was not prepared to ink any deal with the IMF but was rather seeking the best deal for the country.
He also said the Government has made progress but warned that "the tough challenges lie ahead".
Representatives of the IMF arrive in Jamaica later this month to begin negotiations for a new agreement. Phillips said an IMF deal would turn on three major factors - public sector wage containment, tax reform and a sustainable path which will see a reduction of the public debt as a percentage of GDP over the medium term.
"These are difficult challenges but not insurmountable if we have a collective resolve," Phillips said.