Need for Strong Leadership Says PM Golding… As Cabinet Goes Into Second Weekend Retreat

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, will lead a second phase of the Cabinet retreat this weekend. Cabinet met last Friday and is to meet again this Saturday and Sunday.
The Prime Minister gave insights into the issues that confront the Cabinet during his address to the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce earlier today, (February 24) on board the Carnival cruise liner, Liberty of the Seas. Mr. Golding also indicated that there would be the need for clear decisions that called for strong leadership.
“There are things which should have been done in the past but were shunned because we lacked the courage and had the luxury of avoiding. It is now crunch time. But if we are to make sacrifices, let them be an investment to secure a brighter future,” Prime Minister Golding said while adding “…measures must be taken to protect the weak and vulnerable in our society and to enable those who do not have to be among the weak and vulnerable, to become strong.”
Noting that commerce must be nurtured, the Prime Minister said that the Cabinet’s deliberations would “involve decisions that must be made to help businesses stay in business and encourage new businesses to get started. They involve relieving the Government and, by extension, the taxpayer of burdens which they should never have been required and can no longer afford to bear”. Among the areas that are under scrutiny are, “our expenditure programme and the relative allocations for debt servicing, public sector wages, social programmes and capital expenditure. They involve a detailed assessment of our revenue structure and sources and how that must be strengthened”, Mr. Golding noted.
The Prime Minister said that the actions that will be taken to protect the economy have the possibility of making the economy more resistant to future turbulence.
“Now is the time to make the economy stronger through taking the decisions and doing the things that will ensure that when this tsunami has passed, the Jamaican economy will be equipped and configured to rebound and grow more stridently than it has done in the past”, he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the downturn in fiscal performance was directly as a result of the weak global economy and specifically the US economy, from which Jamaica earns 2/3 of its foreign currency inflows. The shortfall in revenue has forced the Government to curtail expenditure by $9 billion and accept a higher than projected deficit. The Prime Minister said that this will lead to a 2.2% decline in the economy, a slip of 1.8% beyond last year’s decline of 0.4%.
The Prime Minister said that government will invite submissions from civic and other groups in preparing the national budget.
“Over the next several weeks leading up to the budget debate in April, we will engage the critical stakeholders in discussing those choices and the Jamaican people in confronting the challenges that face us,” the Prime Minister said.

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