Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies has said that the outlook for the economy was positive, with investments coming into the island and the chief sectors already recovering from Hurricane Ivan.
Minister of Finance & Planning, Dr. Omar Davies (2nd left) was the main presenter at a Gleaner/Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) sponsored forum entitled, ‘Outlook for the Future’ held in Toronto, Canada recently. Also pictured, from left to right, are Chairman of the Gleaner and JNBS, Oliver Clarke; Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto Vivia Betton; and Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Carl Marshall.
“As Minister of Finance, I have never felt more positive about the prospect for the Jamaican economy,” Minister Davies told Jamaicans in Canada at an ‘Outlook for the Future’ forum sponsored by the Gleaner Company/Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) and held at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto.
The Minister attributes this positive outlook to the fast recovery following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September. Although the category four hurricane impacted on several sectors such as agriculture and bauxite/alumina, Dr. Davies said, the country’s “solid infrastructure held up.”
Turning to investment projects, he mentioned the billions of dollars being spent by resort chains Iberostar, Riu and Sandals to build new properties, the refurbishing of Jamaica Grande, while interest was high in the Harmony Cove development. “There is good reason why the French, Koreans, Japanese and Spanish are investing in Jamaica”, he stated.
The Minister also highlighted infrastructure development projects taking place in Jamaica, namely Highway 2000; North Coast Highway; upgrading of the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay; expansion of the Kingston Transshipment Port and cruise facilities in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Port Antonio, and the imminent arrival of cellular giant AT&T.
The Finance Minister told the more than 200 Jamaicans present that the government took the decision not to borrow huge amounts of money to aid in the post-Ivan recovery, as this would have thrown the economy off course in terms of achieving the macroeconomic targets. “To borrow additional amounts will throw us further off-track in terms of achieving our target of eliminating the deficit by fiscal year 2005/2006,” said Minister Davies. “Eliminating the deficit is critical because that is the only way to start paying down the debt,” he added.
Post-Ivan recovery financing, the Minister informed, would come from “the reallocation of existing projects, contributions from the private sector and bilateral or multilateral support.”
Meanwhile, he said that remittances had grown tremendously and it is estimated that the island should earn US$1.4 billion from remittances this year. Canada remains the third largest source of remittances.
Chairman of the Gleaner Company and JNBS, Oliver Clarke, said the forum was part of a series aimed at building “full communication and understanding between Jamaicans outside of Jamaica and those in Jamaica.” Similar sessions have been held in New York and Fort Lauderdale.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Carl Marshall, noted that the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada was taking on new life and they were fully connected with their homeland and ready to give their support.
Also present were Consul General to Toronto, Vivia Betton; General Manager of JNBS, Earl Jarrett and Toronto’s Chief of Police Julian Fantino.