Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller is said to be in full support of the tough economic reform measures which are to be implemented by the Government.
Simpson Miller came within a whisker of springing to her feet on Tuesday to rebuke Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, but settled into her seat after a quiet word from Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell.
Holness had gone down what he conceded to be a "dangerous path" when he asked Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips whether Simpson Miller is supportive of the reform measures.
"Do you have the support of your prime minister in securing the IMF deal," Holness asked as he noted that any delay in inking a deal with the multilateral could be "detrimental to the very people that you are trying to protect".
Phillips, in response, said, "The prime minister came, she spoke, we are united, we talk as one, we do what we are doing on behalf of the people of Jamaica."
Thwaites not in support
Holness in sotto voce comments said he posed the question against the background of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites breaking away from his Cabinet colleagues in publicly declaring he was not in support of the imposition of GCT on basic food items.
He said while he appreciates the explanations from Phillips about the pace of talks with the IMF over a new deal and the prior actions that are needed, he does not believe that "your members understand the impending crisis".
In the meantime, Phillips said there is no foreign-exchange crisis in the country.
"Some of the interruptions of the private portfolio flows are the consequence of deliberate decisions on this side. We are able to defend the Jamaican exchange markets," Phillips said.
"Don't bet against Jamaica, support the country that is going through a difficult time," Phillips said.
But with the country's Net International Reserve on the decline, Generation 2000 (G2K), the young professionals affiliate of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, on Wednesday said it was gravely concerned about the country's economic management.
"The steady decline of the Net International Reserve (NIR) is a real cause for concern and with the minister of finance indicating the projected NIR will be approximately $US1.3 billion at the end of September, the country needs to know what measures will be put in place to stem its decline until a new IMF agreement is signed," G2K president Floyd Green said.
Green said Phillips' presentation on Tuesday failed to remove questions about whether the minister has a grip on what is happening in the economy.