JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has said that the Government’s achievement of the fiscal deficit target for the 2007/08 financial year is demonstrative of its capacity to set credible targets.
Speaking at a post-Budget Debate press conference at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on Friday (April 11), Mr. Shaw said the achievement of a 4.7 per cent deficit from a target of 5.5 per cent “is a significant event, because it means that our first time out, our first deficit target that has been set has been achieved”.
“The first thing we did (on assuming office) was to revise the (fiscal) target for last year from 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent. If we did not take the strong corrective action that we did, in terms of cutting expenditure and ramping up revenue, it would have gone to seven per cent,” Mr. Shaw told journalists.
“Markets here and abroad are going to appreciate that already, seven months out of the gate, we are demonstrating our capacity to set credible targets,” he stated.
Regarding the 4.5 per cent target set for 2008/09, Mr. Shaw said that this is “a conservative estimate”. “We rather set a target and beat it, than set a target and overshoot it by a hundred per cent,” he reasoned.
Opening the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday (April 10), Mr. Shaw said that a three-year programme is being developed, through which the Government aims to achieve a balanced budget by fiscal year 2010/11.
He said that achieving the 2008/09 target will require “strong due diligence” in terms of properly managing the budget, and at the same time ensuring that the economy was growing.
“That is what the Prime Minister is focusing on through (the Ministry of) Industry, Commerce and Investment, a well as through the planning and development section of the Office of the Prime Minister. These (activities) along with ramped up agricultural production for food security, are going to be the sort of panorama against which we are going to grow the economy and let debt become a receding issue,” Mr. Shaw stated.