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Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies, has said that the government will work towards consolidating statutory deductions and using these funds to allocate additional resources for education and training.
Dr. Davies, who was addressing the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ)/Citigroup annual economic forum at the Hilton Kingston Hotel yesterday (June 7), said that this move was necessary as no society can grow at an acceptable rate unless the education, and consequently the quality of its labour force, is improved.
“One of our difficulties is that we came up with a traditional British influenced education system where education was seen as certification and social mobility.very few people linked education and training with increasing the productivity of the labour force, and increasing the capacity of each individual to add value. There is a clear relationship between the quality of the labour force and the level of training and its ability to add value,” he pointed out.
Dr. Davies noted that while the issue of access to secondary school has been addressed, “we now need to deal with, once we have got them (students) into the schools, what then is the value-added during those five or seven years of secondary education, such that you are producing a person who will become a productive member of the labour force”.
According to Dr. Davies, the resources to be gleaned from the amalgamation of statutory deductions is important for the development of education and training, because Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) certification “does not necessarily produce for the labour force, a trained individual capable of adding value in any particular area.it can provide for you someone who can be trained for a particular task”.
In the meantime, the Finance Minister said that the annual forum provided the opportunity to look at the economy in retrospect, but more importantly, examine economic prospects. He noted that the Jamaica economy had “come a long way” and despite the macroeconomic challenges, the achievements should also be recognized.
Citing the liberalization of the local foreign exchange market as one important achievement, Dr. Davies informed that “multi-lateral agencies point to the way we have done this, as a significant achievement in how a state should manage its finances.”
He further pointed to gains last year in relation to inflation, interest rates, and achieving stability in the foreign exchange system. “In all those significant macroeconomic variables, 2006 reflected a positive sign in terms of where we are going to go. The critical challenge is to hold those gains even while we build on them and move toward growth and development,” the Finance Minister stated.
This year’s forum was held under the theme: ‘Equipping the Private Sector for Growth” and was sponsored by Capital and Credit Financial Group, Continental Baking Company, FirstCaribbean International Bank, Hilton Kingston Hotel, Jamaica National Building Society, Jamaica Public Service, and Victoria Mutual Building Society.

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