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Shaw joins Holness' call for growth strategies

Published:Tuesday | January 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Audley Shaw

Former Finance Minister Audley Shaw has endorsed Opposition Leader Andrew Holness's warning that growth-inducement strategies are now urgently needed to secure the gains being made from passing International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests.

"If this is not done with considerable urgency, the economy will continue to drift like a helmless vessel, causing further loss of confidence, exchange rate slippage, anaemic investment and growth prospects, further contraction in employment, and increased crime and instability," Shaw warned in a letter to the editor of The Gleaner published today.

Shaw sharply rebuked the editorial in The Sunday Gleaner of January 5, 2014, which he accused of blatantly attempting to either ignore or rewrite recent economic history and in so doing marginalising the accomplishments of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration.

Ready for debate

Declaring that he is prepared to debate the matter with The Gleaner at any time, Shaw described his 2007-2011 stint as finance minister as a most difficult period emerging out of the worst global economic crisis in more than 70 years, coupled with the JLP's inheritance of an economy that grew by less than one per cent

Shaw, who was the opposition spokesman on finance up to November, when he challenged Holness for the leadership of the JLP, noted that the proposed Goat Islands project remains shrouded in controversy and seems unlikely in the near term.

"My advice to The Gleaner is to tell the whole story and stop the sugar-coating, giving the impression that the Government is embarked on a flawless economic programme in cooperation with the IMF, as nothing could be farther from the truth," said Shaw.

He charged that the editorial refused "to recognise that the economy was stabilised after all the initiatives kicked in with confidence restored, despite the global economic crisis and the suspension in IMF reviews, and yielded growth of 1.5 per cent in 2011, before falling back into recession under the sluggish management of the present Government."

Shaw said the implementation of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) was also an important part of that growth trajectory. "So was the JDX, which reduced interest rates from an average 17 per cent to 12 per cent before they were further reduced to single digit.

Said Shaw: "This is a necessary background to the superficial and whimsical treatment given in your editorial."