JIS News

Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said that built into the 2008/09 budget, which will be tabled in Parliament on Thursday March 28, is a firm determination to reduce the fiscal deficit, even within the current constraints.
In an address to the nation last night, Mr. Golding said that persistent fiscal deficits, and fuel inflation, had eroded confidence and driven up interest rates and that the deficit in particular, has to be turned around, beginning now.
“It is a budget that is designed to reinforce hope based on a firm understanding of where we are, a clear vision as to where we want to go and a roadmap as to how to get there. Even in these tough times – indeed, especially because of these tough times – we must make a fresh start to develop the capacity of our people to produce the means of our own subsistence, to work hard and to enjoy the fruits of our labour,” he stated.
Mr. Golding explained that the problem that the country now faces with rising oil and food prices is not unique to Jamaica, as “the economy is caught in the middle of a global economic cyclone that is battering even countries with strong economies.”
“It is hitting us very hard in Jamaica because all the oil we use for energy and much of the food we eat are imported. The prices of oil, corn and wheat have doubled since last year this time because as the price of oil climbs, it pulls grain prices with it, since some of the grain that used to make food is now being used to make fuel. It is a vicious cycle that has thrown the entire world economy into a tailspin,” he said.
Despite the subsidies that have been put in place, the Prime Minister noted, prices continue to go up, and have significantly impacted the poor. “Everyone is feeling it, especially the poor, the unemployed and the low wage earners. I worry about the poor. I think of that mother, who has to stretch that hard-earned dollar to make sure that her children have something to eat. I know how hard it is,” he told the nation.
“As we muscle up to tackle the difficulties facing us this year and the uncertainties to which we are so nakedly exposed, we must begin to address, in a serious way, our deficiencies and vulnerabilities. We import too much and export too little, we produce too little and borrow too pay for what we don’t produce. We have been like this for too long,” he stated.
The Prime Minister said the country must be more proactive, “as for too long, the need for energy and food security had been ignored. We have to get real and we will have to make real changes, using precious energy more efficiently and growing food more productively.”
“We must shed burdens that we shouldn’t have to bear, burdens that the taxpayers can no longer afford to bear, and we must eliminate waste and root out corruption, so that our resources can be spent where they can be more productive,” Mr. Golding told the nation.
He said that while he takes no comfort in the fact that countries around the world are wrestling with similar problems, the society must rise to these challenges with courage and resourcefulness.
This year, he said, “we must make major strides in resolving the issue of how we govern ourselves and how we are prepared to allow ourselves to be governed. We must build a platform on which we can work together because, especially in times like these, we can achieve so much more if we pull together rather than pull apart”.

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