Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
Chairman OF Jamaica Promotions Milton Samuda is urging the Government to make Jamaica's case to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and be unafraid and firm in negotiations to get a new deal.
Addressing the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments at Villa Viento in Tower Isle, St Mary, on Saturday, Samuda said the negotiating team must also insist that the negotiated framework do not rob Jamaica of the ability to compete with other markets, which are pursuing the same investment dollars.
At the same time Samuda, who in September, as president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about the delay in an IMF deal, is urging Jamaicans to let their voices be heard in support of the negotiating team.
Unafraid and upfront
"And we must make our case to the IMF! Unafraid and upfront," Samuda said. "And the devil is in the details, so while we accept that, we must implement a more transparent, rational system of awarding incentives and granting waivers, and we must make the process accountable and performancebased. We must also insist that the negotiated framework not rob us of the ability to compete with other markets which are pursuing the same investment dollars!"
"Yes, we need to protect and enhance revenue within a framework of deepening financial prudence, but we cannot and must not do so without carving out the very tools which help us to secure investment, especially foreign direct investment.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we must be firm in those negotiations and we must support with our voices, our negotiating team. This is a crossroad. The decisions that we make now will have repercussions far into the future."
In September, Samuda said it was critical that the agreement, which should have been completed long ago, be completed before the end of the year. This, he said, was essential to bring back stability and restore confidence in the markets.
But the IMF team, which arrived September 24, left after several days of discussion with the Government, without finalising an agreement.
"Now more than ever, we have to display courage and common sense. That goes for us the people as much as it goes for Government," Samuda added. "Government does not have the funds. Do the math. Years of fiscal indiscipline now make it that, even if there was no prospect of an IMF deal, things would still have to be radically different."
Samuda said it is imperative that the country has economic growth and to get that we have to swallow the necessary medicine.
This medicine, he indicated, includes total pension and tax reform, wage restraint for now and the future - for both workers and management; performance-based production and the non-tolerance of underperformance at all levels.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said on Sunday that the Government was working "hard" to conclude an agreement with the IMF.