'No mega reliance'
Phillips says Gov't not overly dependent on big projects to grow economy
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
FINANCE MINISTER Dr Peter Phillips has dismissed an assertion by his opposition counterpart, Audley Shaw, that there is an over-reliance on mega projects to grow the economy.
Shaw, speaking with journalists at The Gleaner's North Street offices on Thursday, warned that the country could fail to meet growth targets set out in the four-year extended fund facility, which was approved by the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday.
He argued that instead of focusing solely on mega projects, the Government should use tax policy to stimulate the economy.
"It is a major error that he has made, and we are going to feel the consequences down the line. We might not even make those modest growth targets that have been projected under the medium-term programme," Shaw said, as he pointed to the Government's decision to increase transfer tax and stamp duty.
But yesterday, Phillips said there is no over-reliance on the mega projects to drive economic growth.
Small business project
The finance minister pointed to a $2-billion line of credit that is being made available to small businesses, the establishment of nine agro parks across the island and a US$20-million investment in information communication technology as aspects of the Government's growth strategy.
"Probably there needs to be more time for Mr Shaw to read and digest the things that were said during the (Budget) Debate. I don't believe that he has fully grasped the nature of the model," Phillips said.
Phillips yesterday reiterated that the IMF programme is a difficult one and called for all hands on deck in seeking to ensure its success.
"We can either, as a country, talk ourselves into depths of despondency and hopelessness, in which case we know the end result of that ... or we can decide as thousands of Jamaicans do in the face of difficulties and hardships, get up and move with hope, expectation, confidence and faith in the Almighty."
"The problem, unfortunately with the kind of political culture that we have developed, is that people believe that they must have an incentive to be negative about everything," Phillips said.