JIS News

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  • Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips said there needs to be a coordinated global effort to assist the Caribbean region out of its financial challenges, and push towards sustainable growth and development.
  • Minister Phillips said that although some coordination in this regard has been ongoing, much more needs to be done.
  • Dr. Phillips also called for the issue of a regional strategy for energy to be placed back on the table as well as matters relating to the Common External Tariff, (CET) and the current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Taxation treaties.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips said there needs to be a coordinated global effort to assist the Caribbean region out of its financial challenges, and push towards sustainable growth and development.

Speaking on October 23 at the opening of the two-day 2014 High Level Caribbean Forum being hosted by the International Monetary Fund, (IMF) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James, Minister Phillips said that although some coordination in this regard has been ongoing, much more needs to be done.

“There have been signs of support particularly relating to climate change and gender affairs, but far more is needed,” he said.

Dr. Phillips also called for the issue of a regional strategy for energy to be placed back on the table as well as matters relating to the Common External Tariff, (CET) and the current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Taxation treaties.

“It is necessary we believe that we look at our current CARICOM taxation treaties and discuss the Common External Tariff in order to ensure that regionalism not only induces growth but delivers equitable growth across the various jurisdictions within CARICOM,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phillips said several studies have shown that the main constraints to growth primarily involve a high debt burden, with the associated impact on the cost of capital, and the ability of Governments to carry out their core functions and provide essential services.

“Secondly a burdensome and inequitable tax system…to name a few. These supply side constraints can, when combined, create an environment that frustrates dynamic and robust entrepreneurship and limits business modernisation that could lead to broad based and sustained economic growth,” he explained.

Additionally, Dr. Phillips said the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on Caribbean countries has been particularly severe and prolonged.

“Indeed they still continue to affect the Caribbean. When coupled with the high debt that many of countries are experiencing the impact manifests itself in low or no economic growth…some of our countries have either entered programmes with the International Monetary Fund, or are working with the Fund and multi-laterals to lessen the impact and we in Jamaica certainly appreciate the assistance provided by the international institutions thus far,” he stated.

In welcoming the theme of the forum ‘Unlocking Economic Growth’, he said Jamaica is seeking to unlock “even more growth than we have experienced in the last four quarters”.
The Finance Minister said that with the limitations that all regional Governments face, it is also important to encourage the private sector to find the opportunities that exist, and to invest in the region’s future. “It will require being innovative, focusing on new products that are higher up the value chain and products that are particularly suited for export market,” he said.

Dr. Phillips emphasised that it is important that the dialogue with the international community continues, on refining the type and quality of support necessary to ensure that the Caribbean escapes the trap of low growth and under-performance.