We have become poorer since 2009, says Prof Williams
PROFESSOR DENSIL Williams, executive director of the Mona School of Business and Management, says unless Jamaica takes the requisite steps to lay a strong foundation for growth, the nation could be in for a rough time going forward.
"I looked at the numbers and it says to me that since 2009, we have become poorer," said Williams, while giving the keynote address at the inaugural Western Jamaica Economic Forum, which was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James, last week.
"Since 1962, we have been able to run a fiscal surplus only 17 out of 52 years, and most of those years were in the 1960s. Subsequent to that, we have not been able to manage our fiscal surplus very well," added Williams.
"The current state (situation) is suggesting that we are in for a rough time as an economy, and the challenge is that we will have to grow our way out of the present situation," continued Williams. "We cannot afford to continue cutting back on expenditure and we can't continue to cut back on government spending."
According to the professor, Jamaica is not internationally competitive, and he challenged those in attendance to act with greater urgency if the country is to achieve its projected goals according to the Vision 2030 national development plan in the prescribed time.
THINGS NOT AS GLOOMY
However, Colin Bullock, head of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, who was in the audience played down the professor's assertions, suggesting that Jamaica is not doing as badly as is being suggested.
"We must not be too hard on ourselves when comparing with others because, very often, things are not as bad as they seem," said Bullock. "The fact is that at this point, Jamaica and Barbados have the same credit rating, but the difference is Jamaica is on her way up, while Barbados is on her way down."
The forum, which was organised by the St James Parish Council, was geared towards creating a scope for empowering local groups within the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland, in terms of developing and implementing an economic model to improve life in the western region.