JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has said that poverty remains a persistent problem in Jamaica, which can only be eliminated through individual and collective efforts at wealth creation.
Speaking at Mayberry Investments Limited’s first monthly investors’ seminar at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (Jan.16), Mr. Shaw said that wealth creation can only be achieved when every individual desirous of “living a productive life”, is given that opportunity.
“You create wealth, not by illusion, but by hard work, ingenuity, risk taking, and the production of goods and services from which you earn,” he stated.He said that to achieve this goal, the framework must be created to facilitate substantial economic growth of at least six to 10 per cent.
In order to do so, Minister Shaw said, there needs to be a reduction in the country’s debt, reformation of the energy policy and tax system, promotion of efficiency in government bureaucracy, education transformation, and aggressive investment promotion.
According to the Finance Minister, the country’s debt “hangs like an albatross around the neck of the Jamaican economy,” adding that, “more than half of our budget dollars are committed to servicing debt.””So how do we deal with it? We must grow our way out of it; we have got to move from ‘borrow and tax’ to ‘grow and earn’. Invest, create jobs, enhance human productivity, grow and earn,” Mr. Shaw stated.
He noted that energy remains a “serious issue”, with US$400 million added to the country’s energy bill for the 2007/08 fiscal year.
“There are things we can do (to reduce this). We must stop continuing as if it’s business as usual (and alter) our method of consumption. We are going to look, among other things in the tax reform, at how we can promote further energy conservation,” he indicated.
He informed that he recently met with officials from the European Investment Bank, “and they want to finance renewable energy projects at three to four per cent interest rates for anyone who comes with an investment proposal in renewable energy, whether it is solar power, wind power, mini hydro, ethanol or other projects like those. It’s time for us to put on our thinking caps, in terms of energy conservation,” he stated.
In terms of tax reform, Mr. Shaw cited the need to make the collection process simple and equitable. “What is important is how the tax dollars are spent. It must be a source of inspiration and encouragement to every taxpayer to want to pay their taxes,” he noted.
Education transformation and aggressive investment promotion, the Minister said further, are also critical in effecting turnaround in the country’s fortunes.
Stating that the public sector has a key role to play in the process, Minister Shaw said that workers must be cognizant of the need to deliver services more efficiently, which, he added, will enhance growth.

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