THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am at a loss as to who is speaking the truth and to whom we should listen concerning the status of the economy.
Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw boldly told the nation that one of the reasons why the United States dollar is getting scarce is an upsurge in the black market trade. In response, Financial Secretary Dr Wesley Hughes dismissed those claims, but failed to provide evidence of other reasons for the currency shortfall.
Rating agency Fitch, in February, said Jamaica may find it difficult to honour its debt obligations and labelled our seeming inability to pay as a structural weakness, which ultimately spells trouble to our creditors. Financial analyst Errol Gregory has also criticised the Government for being on autopilot.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Philips has consistently given the country the impression that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal was likely by December, rubbishing doubts of the Opposition's assertions that it was not possible, even up to the latter part of October. Then last week, while tabling the White Paper on tax reform, Dr Phillips admitted that it was not likely to happen before next year.
The IMF has stated that Jamaica has the fourth-highest poverty rate at 43.1 per cent when compared to 23 neighbours. This was in contrast to the Planning Institute of Jamaica's director general, Dr Gladstone Hutchinson's, figure of 19.7 per cent. The Opposition is claiming that the economy is in shambles, while the chairman of the People's National Party, Robert Pickersgill, is decrying those claims.
In all this 'he says/she says/they say', who are we to believe? Who is speaking the truth in this state of confusion, which is seemingly putting the country deeper and deeper into a tailspin of fear? Who are the leaders of Jamaica to whom we look for reassurance? I would very much like to know.