JIS News

Dr. Wesley Hughes, Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), has said that while the competitive global marketplace posed challenges for Jamaica, there were also real opportunities for economic growth and expansion.
These opportunities, he said, did not only extend to the export markets but to domestic production as well.Dr. Hughes, who was speaking at the launch of ‘Millennium Development Goals: A Latin American and Caribbean Perspective Report’ earlier today (September 13), at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, said that among positive signs, were the reform of agricultural policies in Europe and the general reduction in subsidies to industries.
“So, there are great possibilities. What is clear to me however, is that we need to improve our investments not just in infrastructure but investment in human and social capital,” he said, adding that it was also important that the issues of productivity and growth be dealt with.
The report, developed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ELAC), provides a social and economic overview of the region’s progress to date. It is expected to help enhance regional and sub regional cooperation and serve as the basis for debate at the United Nations General Assembly this month, which will review the progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals worldwide.
Dr. Hughes, while noting the value of the report, said it was important for countries in the region to carefully analyze the document to see where the deficiencies were and how these could be addressed.
He noted that the PIOJ had already acknowledged many of the shortcomings identified in the report, but pointed out that the problems “cannot be solved without seriously tackling the issue of economic growth, the quality of growth, the rate of growth and most importantly, the issue of productivity”.
Jamaica, like the rest of the region, he said, was at a very critical juncture in the development process. “We have made some significant progress, however there are very significant challenges ahead. Within the context of a very rapidly changing global environment, we have had to undertake very significant policy reforms,” he said.
The PIOJ Director General pointed out that over the years, Jamaica had undertaken a wide range of social and economic reforms, but more needed to be done. He noted for example, that while there has been significant growth, this was not sufficient to absorb the volume of labour, which is being shed in the agricultural sector and the commodity producing areas of the economy.
“As preferences are reduced in Europe and banana, sugar and other commodities become less viable and we have had to restructure, it means that we are going to be leasing labour to other sectors. What is clear is that we need to accelerate growth .generate a higher level of employment and more importantly, higher quality of jobs,” he stated.
The PIOJ Director said that Jamaica must attract increased investment. “Interestingly enough Jamaica. is beginning to reap some benefits in terms of increased foreign direct investment and we have seen very significant flows in many sectors of the economy,” he stated.