JIS News

Member of Parliament for West Central St James, Clive Mullings, has said that the current financial crisis presents an opportunity for Jamaica, and other developing countries, to critically review issues like debt management, fiscal discipline and debt re-negotiation.
“It is time for extraordinary leadership to seize the moment, and not merely repeat quotable quotes of ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’ while, at the same time, wasting it,” he stated.
Mr. Mullings, who was making his contribution to the 2009/2010 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives Wednesday (July 22), focussed most of his presentation on the national debt.
He lamented that Jamaica’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is in excess of 100 per cent. He said while the laws ensure that debt servicing is the first call on the budget, hard decisions will have to be made to reverse the trend of escalating debt servicing requirements.
Mr. Mullings suggested a debt management strategy which calls for the engagement of the institutions to which Jamaica is indebted. He hastened to point out that he was not suggesting the country default on its debts, but that it attempts to restructure them. He suggested that the payment period be lengthened or the payment deferred, while the value of the credit is protected.
Mr. Mullings added that developing country leaders should have on their agenda, a call for the review of multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
“We have now engaged the IMF. It is still not too late to call for the governance structure of the IMF to be reviewed,” he said. Mr. Mullings insisted that developing countries should put pressure on countries like Brazil and China, which are among the richest developing countries, to make greater contributions to IMF, therefore, having a greater say in the decision-making process.
Mr. Mullings also declared that there needs to be a structural adjustment in the budgetary provisions. He said there was need to build institutional capacity and improve project management skills within Government entities.
“We need to look more closely on the debt we have incurred and the purposes for which we have incurred it, to ascertain whether we are servicing underutilised debt, thereby having the burden without the benefit,” he said.
The Member of Parliament also said it was time that the public service becomes more efficient, and suggested the use of Central Information Technology to link Ministries and agencies, to make information more seamless and timely.
Mr. Mullings added that the Government needs to find ways of providing more avenues for micro-financing, especially in light of imminent job losses. He said this would help to boost productivity and help to take Jamaica out of its current “tailspin.”

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