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JIS News

Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding told the nation on Wednesday (Jan 13) night that the way forward for Jamaica is exciting, although it will not be without challenges.
Speaking in a national broadcast in which he outlined new economic initiatives to reduce the debt and the budget deficit and widen the social safety net for the poor, Mr. Golding, optimistically, predicted that Jamaica will meet the challenges and be victorious.
“The way forward is exciting. It will not be without its challenges but if we make this fundamental shift in how we conduct our business, we will meet those challenges and we will be victorious,” Mr. Golding said.
“The pain of the present will give way to the promise of a brighter and more secure future. The burdens that I have had to ask you to share will become lighter, until they are no longer burdens at all,” he added.
He said that the Government is aware that the harsh economic times weighed heavily on the very poor and vulnerable, and their pain could not be ignored nor be left to wait until the economy recovers.
“Last year, we increased the provisions for social safety net programmes such as PATH and the School Feeding Programme. Despite the fiscal constraints, we will be increasing those provisions even further in the coming budget. NIS pensioners, too, will not be left out,” the Prime Minister assured.
“What will all this do for Jamaica? What will this do for you? What hope does it bring and what opportunities does it offer? The benefits are many; the possibilities endless,” he added.
He said that once the country curtails expenses and reduce the cost of servicing its debt, there will be no need to borrow so much. Once the need to borrow is reduced, debt will come down, interest rates will come down more and money will start chasing businesses and individuals encouraged to start or expand businesses, creating new jobs, increasing production, expanding exports and earning more foreign exchange.
He said that low interest rates, low inflation, a stable exchange rate, improved public sector management and efficiency will create the kind of environment that has long existed in places like Singapore and South Korea where investment, production and job creation are the only game in town – not helping Government to pay its mounting bills.
“We are preparing for that new environment, preparing to fast-track that transformation,” he said.
A number of significant new projects are scheduled to come on stream in the course of this year. Tenders for the financing and build-out of the new LNG facility that will bring cheaper electricity to the country, are due to be returned by mid-February, he said. The alumina industry is seeing positive signs of recovery and the reopening of at least one of our plants this year, as well as new investments actively pursued.
“We expect to conclude the Casino legislation by next month, and the Harmony Cove project involving several billion US dollars of new investment is expected to move into high gear. The new Falmouth Port is on schedule and should start receiving the new generation of mega-ships early next year,” The Prime Minister stated.
He said that this “new, stable, strongly-supported and carefully monitored” investment-friendly environment will enable Jamaica to approach the investment market with new confidence and demonstrate that it is not only anxious for business, but is ready to do business.
“But, it is not just the large investors that it will be able to excite. It will enable micro, small and medium-sized businesses to flourish and the Government will continue to do its part in providing the support and facilities they need to get into the fast lane,” Mr. Golding noted.
“There are businesses that have plans for expansion, or new investments. We want these to be brought forward as quickly as possible and I have assigned my Special Advisor, Chris Zacca, to assist those businesses that may be encountering difficulties to do with Government bureaucracy or regulation, to work with them to get those projects moving,” he pointed out.
“This is our task. This is our challenge. This is our hope,” Mr Golding said.