• JIS News

    Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Don Wehby, says despite the current world financial crisis, Jamaica could learn lessons from the Irish economic model, and the social partnerships that it created.
    The Minister was speaking to JIS News following two days of high level talks in Ireland with senior Government and business executives. He was accompanied by Deputy Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Livingston Morris.
    According to Senator Wehby, in the 1980’s Ireland’s high debt to GDP ratio, low actual growth and a devaluing currency , mirroed much of what is happening in Jamaica now, where there is a high level of debt and little growth.
    “The visit turned out to be an excellent one, and gave us some hope in terms of going forward. They invested very heavily in education, they did a major tax reform programme, and actually dropped the corporate income tax rate (from 30 to 12.5 per cent ) and, significantly, they went out very aggressively to promote foreign direct investments. Those three main areas as well as the social partnership, the consensus with the opposition, consensus with the unions, that this is the direction the country was moving, improved their economy,” he explains.
    He said for Jamaica to move forward, similar consensus is needed by everyone including the Opposition, and union stakeholders.
    “We need to attract foreign direct investment to get increased growth. We have been only growing at one per cent, and I think we need to get a minimum of three, three and half per cent, over the next few years , understanding that the world is going through a recession ,” he said.
    “But we have to put our house in order so when the recession ends, we can be in the front of the line in terms of growth. While things may look dull at this time with the whole financial market crisis, I think if we can get those things right, you are going to see a brighter Jamaica,” he said.
    The main focus of the minister’s visit was to meet with the National Treasury Management Agency in Ireland. “We wanted to see how they manage their central treasury unit because in Jamaica, our research shows that there could be tremendous benefit in terms of managing the government cash more efficiently using their system. Our meeting also looked at the central treasury management system . They highlighted to us their success, in fact, that when they started to manage the debt, the debt to GDP ratio was over 100 per cent, and now it is down to 25 because of the systems they have in place,” he added.