Jamaica’s PM Points To Challenges At The Macro-Economic Level

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, while speaking at the official launch of the Essex Valley Agriculture Project, held at the Lititz Primary School in St. Elizabeth, has appealed for a more collaborative approach to improve the country’s macro-economic standing.

He posited the view that given Jamaica’s robust macro-economic indicators a united approach should see the country attaining an economic growth above 2 percent rather than the anemic growth currently being experienced.

 “We’ve been doing everything correctly. We have gotten high scores by all markers on the macro-fiscal issues and how we have handled debt; how we have handled foreign exchange; how we have handled public expenditure and how we have handled our taxation. Where we still have challenges would be at the micro-economic level,” the Prime Minister noted.

The Prime Minister noted for the last quarter, the outturn was 1.8 percent; the quarter before that it was 2.2 percent, and that for the past three years the country has not been able to get over the 2 percent hump.

“We can’t say that we’re growing until we have crossed 2 percent, as 2 percent is really, from our perspective, the threshold for takeoff,” Mr. Holness said.

He argued that a cultural shift and approach to management and business across all sectors will dictate the pace of the country’s economic growth.

“Where we still have challenges would be at the level of the firm, the level of the farmer, the level of the technocrats and bureaucrats in the regulatory environment in the Ministries, agencies, and departments. How fast are we working? How Innovative are we? How responsive is the bureaucracy? That is where the challenge is. A large part of that requires a culture shift,” the Prime Minister said.

He underscored the point that all players in the economy must make responsible decisions that will stimulate economic growth.

“It is about bringing together all the players in the economy so that they have an understanding that their micro action, their small action, their individual action has an impact on economic growth outturn,” the Prime Minister explained.

The Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project is being funded at a cost of £35. 5 million by the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and seeks to enhance the productivity of farmers in the Essex Valley, in a socially inclusive, gender equitable, and climate-sensitive manner.

The project will impact the livelihoods of over 700 farmers on 718 hectares of land through the provision of irrigated water and improved access to local and global agricultural markets.

Carol Maye, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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