Positive Prospects For Fiscal Year 2004/05 – Finance Minister


Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies has said that the fiscal year 2004/05 has a number of positive prospects.
He was speaking at a meeting late last week with residents of Spaulding in Manchester at the United Church in that community.
Dr. Davies said that the tourism and mining sectors as well as agricultural and construction projects were expected to boost the economy this year.
He said that within the tourism sector, visitor expenditure was expected to be buoyant, and major hotel investments were expected to take place particularly from four major Spanish chains, adding that an industry growth of seven per cent for 2004 was being targeted.
The Minister mentioned however that challenges to this achievement included containing crime, maintaining presence in the international media and competing with other tourist destinations.
He said that a favourable external environment existed within the bauxite industry, with strong demand for the product coming from Asia as well as moderate increases in this demand from the US and Japanese economies.
The Finance and Planning Minister also noted that despite problems in the US, the Kaiser bauxite company remained profitable in Jamaica.
He pointed out that the government would be carrying out a phased introduction of a new fiscal regime, which would result in the gradual removal of the bauxite levy.
Dr. Davies divulged that among the list of agricultural projects across the island, Clarendon would be benefiting from at least two major projects.These, he said, included the Trans Global Aquaculture Limited Project at Longwood in the parish. This farm complex, added Dr. Davies, would consist of 550 hectares of ponds, and would produce more than 8.8 million kilograms of shrimp annually and generate employment of between 300 and 370 positions.
This is in addition to the Hi-Tech Farms Limited at Spring Plains involving a large-scale agricultural farming enterprise producing fresh vegetables and fruits for local consumption and export.
Minister Davies said that the island would continue to benefit from major infrastructural development now under way such as Highway 2000, the North Coast Highway, and the expansion of port facilities.
Clarendon, he noted, would benefit from the construction of a Transport Centre in Spaulding for which the design was to be completed by the end of February 2004 and construction was set to begin in the first three months of 2004/05.
Also a rural water supply scheme is to be developed in Christiana and Spaulding for which the design is to be completed in 2005 and works contracts are to begin in 2006 for a period of 20 months.
Minister Davies said that the focus in 2004/05 would be a further reduction in interest rates, in inflation and in the deficit, as well as maintaining stability in the foreign exchange market and stimulation of the real economy.

JIS Social