JIS News

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  • Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, has underscored the need for “certain adjustments” in how government functions in order to enhance the country’s competitiveness.
  • These adjustments, he said, are also imperative in ensuring that Jamaica secures maximum benefits from implementation of the more “complex” aspects of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP).
  • In relation to the ERP, Dr. Phillips cited the need to consolidate on the achievements recorded thus far, as well as a major effort by public and private sector stakeholders at all levels.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, has underscored the need for “certain adjustments” in how government functions in order to enhance the country’s competitiveness.

These adjustments, he said, are also imperative in ensuring that Jamaica secures maximum benefits from implementation of the more “complex” aspects of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP).

“We need to ensure that institutions of government, particularly those central to doing business, operate at world class standards,” the Minister stated on August 15, as he addressed the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of New Kingston, at Chasers Café, Belmont Road, New Kingston.

“It makes no sense if your competitor can get building approvals, for example, in 30 days, and it’s going to take them (applicants) six months here. Obviously, you are (encouraging) people to invest in the place where it takes 30 days, rather than in place where it takes six months, because time is money,” he argued.

He cited as key, the streamlining of importation procedures and approval processes by Jamaica Customs, involving digitization to create a single window for all such transactions; revision of the work permit protocol for entities outsourcing their operations in Jamaica; and re-organizing production processes for more centralized outputs.

“So, it means that we are going to have to change the way we operate our entities (to) enable…freedom of movement while protecting our borders, as best we can. That’s the reality of today’s world,” he emphasized.

In relation to the ERP, Dr. Phillips cited the need to consolidate on the achievements recorded thus far, as well as a major effort by public and private sector stakeholders at all levels of the society in ensuring implementation of the programme’s more complex reforms.

Highlighting targets attained thus far, Dr. Phillips said these include: significant reduction in the balance of payments current account deficit from 13.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the start of the ERP’s implementation, to eight per cent during the 2013/14 fiscal year. He said the expectation for the current fiscal year is that “the deficit will be in the order of 6.3 (to) 6.5 per cent of GDP.”

Additionally, the Minister pointed to the decline in Jamaica’s debt to GDP ratio, which fell from 146 per cent at the start of the ERP’s implementation, to 139 per cent in 2013/14, while declaring that this figure is “still too high.”

“We have legislated, in the Fiscal Rule (Act) passed in Parliament, getting to 60 per cent debt to GDP by 2025. That is still not an ideal situation (as) it is still too high, in global terms. But it would represent a vastly improved condition for us,” he contended.

Stating that the “easier” challenge is to restrict budgets, Dr. Phillips asserted that “what we have to do is to ensure that we don’t, as a country… stray from the course before the real benefits are to be reaped.”