JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, told participants in the 14th annual Americas Conference in Miami Wednesday (September 15) of initiatives being taken by the Jamaican government in response to the economic challenges facing the country.
Speaking at a plenary discussion, “Caribbean After the Crisis” at the conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, the Minister said the Government had created a programme of fiscal prudence and good governance, based on internationally accepted standards, in addition to an agenda of performance objectives included in the Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009.
Mr. Shaw was a member of a panel which also included the Finance Minister of the Dominican Republic, Vicente Bengoa Albizu; Caribbean Political Analyst , Derek Ramsamooj; and Director, Commercial Development RCCL, Miguel Reyna. The Conference was hosted by the World Bank, Latin America/Caribbean Region and the Miami Herald Media Company.
Mr. Shaw stated that an impressive range of performance matrices, worked out with the multilateral lending institutions, allowed the country to secure over (US) $1 billion in loans at relatively low interest rates.
Citing the sacrifices that had to be made as part of the response effort, Mr. Shaw noted initiatives such as: the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX) ; divestment of the national airline, while maintaining 16 per cent ownership; divestment of five state-run sugar enterprises; tax policy reforms to improve collection and administration; public sector reforms to reduce costs and improve efficiency; and fiscal responsibility legislation to improve budget planning and public financial management, as well as make the government more accountable.
He pointed out that the sugar divestment has, in turn, lead to a US$3 billion investment in the expansion of the industry, including planned construction of a sugar refinery.
In the area of accountability and budget planning, Mr. Shaw said that Government was committed to a new elevated level of transparency in the management of public financing.
On the quarterly IMF tests, Mr. Shaw indicated that the government was successful in responding to the March and June tests, and he expected similar results in the quarter which ends September.
He said that the Government was ready to undertake more necessary and bold steps to improve the Jamaican economy.
“We are playing our part in staying within the guidelines of a six per cent (budget) deficit,” he pointed out on the issue of inflation.
Turning to sustainable growth in the economy, he called on the private sector to “unlock its innovation and creativity, while generating enthusiasm and realising efficiency.”
He also referred to tourism, highlighting the development of the Falmouth Pier, a US$220 million project between the Government of Jamaica and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited (RCCL), to restore the town of Falmouth to a modern cruise ship facility.
Other areas of planned development he addressed included Downtown Kingston’s redevelopment, as well as agro-industry and agriculture, which were also poised for growth.
Mr. Shaw was accompanied by Jamaica’s Consul General in Miami, Sandra Grant Griffiths. The two-day conference ended Wednesday after regional leaders, officials from private and public sectors, academia and policy makers shared insights and observations.

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