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PSOJ said it is not endorsing any party

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

William Mahfood, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said on Monday that his organisation was not endorsing any political party to form the Government after the next general election, insisting that its primary interest was in ensuring that the economic reform programme did not fall victim of political considerations.

"It is not that we are coming out to say we are in support of this administration as much as it is that we are trying to reinforce the need for continued discipline on the fiscal management of the country's economic indicators," Mahfood told The Gleaner Monday.

Hours earlier, the PSOJ released a statement saying that it was seeing signs of improvement in the economy and fiscal accounts, as a result of the current economic and fiscal reform programme. The statement was released a day after the governing People's National Party (PNP) held its 77th annual conference at the National Arena.

"In light of the upcoming election, evidenced by the increased political atmosphere, the PSOJ would like to stress to everyone that Jamaicans have made too many sacrifices over the past two years to see these gains reversed by frivolous expenditure, as we have seen happen in past elections," the PSOJ said.

Jamaica has so far passed nine quarterly reviews under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) which is overseen by the International Monetary Fund.

On Monday, the PSOJ said its monthly monitoring has shown improvements in the fiscal balances, current account balance, business confidence, and the lowering of inflation and interest rates.

"We are, therefore, optimistic that if Jamaica continues on the path of fiscal and economic reform that we started approximately two years ago, we will see greater stabilisation and business confidence, which are essential for the country's sustainable development," the PSOJ added.

The PSOJ said that despite the noted improvements in the economy, there was still much more to be done, specifically in relation to greater facilitation of the business environment at the small and medium enterprise (SME) level.

"Our feedback is that large and established businesses are seeing more opportunities for investment, but there is still significant difficulty being experienced at the SME level," the PSOJ said.

Mahfood told The Gleaner that he realised that a number of persons in support of the opposition Jamaica Labour party (JLP) have taken the view that the statement was an endorsement of the PNP.

"We are endorsing the impact of the programme to this point and we think it is important that we continue along this path. There has to be more focus on the other components of the economic reform programme such as pension reform and public sector transformation," the PSOJ president said.

But Audley Shaw, opposition spokesman on finance, said he agreed that the economic programme should not be subjected to political considerations. He said, too, that he supported the point in seeking to maintain the fiscal gains that have been made.

He said, however, that the timing of the statement by the PSOJ opened the door for it to be interpreted as support for the PNP.