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Byles rubbishes Shaw's mouthpiece claim

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, Richard Byles, has dismissed Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw's claim that he was a mouthpiece of Government, based on his pronouncements on the Internatio-nal Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

Shaw, addressing the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) annual conference at the National Arena in Kingston in November, reportedly branded Byles "a mouthpiece" of the governing People's National Party, for reporting, in his capacity as a chairman of the public/private-sector oversight committee, on the economic outcomes.

"I can only say ... when I come here I try to stick to the facts," said Byles while addressing a media briefing at Sagicor Life Jamaica, New Kingston, last week.

Referring to the quantitative targets under the programme, the EPOC co-chairman said "these are numbers that are published from our institutions. So that's what I think I am doing, conveying facts."

Byles noted that "sometimes the facts are good, most times they are good for all Jamaica, and sometimes they are not so good and I still call them out. We had a 0.8 contraction of the economy (in the quarter ended September). I say that just as truthfully and frankly as I say inflation was 0.1 per cent."

Responding to the issue of confidence in Jamaica at this time, Byles, chairman and chief executive officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica, said: "I think, generally, businesses are more confident about the management of the economy than they were before."

He added that "they may be concerned about other aspects of our governance, but I think that when it comes to the management of the economy they would accept that it has been prudently managed in the last 18 or 20 months."

- M.T.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com