- Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, says that considerable progress has been made under the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) and the Government is committed to ensuring that those gains are protected and sustained.
- Dr. Phillips was speaking in a national broadcast on Tuesday (June 16) on the progress of the ERP and the status of the economy.
- The Finance and Planning Minister said that sustained economic growth continues to be the ultimate objective of the ERP.
Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, says that considerable progress has been made under the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) and the Government is committed to ensuring that those gains are protected and sustained.
Dr. Phillips was speaking in a national broadcast on Tuesday (June 16) on the progress of the ERP and the status of the economy.
He noted since the implementation of the ERP, significant progress has been made in reducing the debt, improving the country’s Gross domestic Product (GDP) and Net International Reserves (NIR) and reducing inflation.
“The country’s finances are now in much better shape. We have reduced reliance on borrowing, and have been able to achieve a reduction in interest rates, which gives investors access to cheaper capital,” he added.
Dr. Phillips said that “while we are not where we want to be as yet,” the economy is returning to growth.
Citing a number of positive developments, he mentioned the successful establishment of nine agro parks with expectation of another 21 over the next three years, which he said, will impact thousands of Jamaicans and reduce the country’s reliance on imports.
He said the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector continues to expand, providing thousands of jobs for Jamaican as another driver of growth in the economy.
“I am particularly pleased with recent announcements, which propose to further expand the sector to the Corporate Area. There are few other areas of our economy that have the potential of this sector for boosting employment in the short to medium term,” Dr. Phillips noted.
He further noted that the economy continues to benefit from significant boost in tourist arrivals, while there is significant investment in highway development.
“Progress continues to be made with the recent divestment of the Kingston Container Terminal; the proposed divestment of the Norman Manley International Airport and the Jamaica Railway Corporation as well as the planning for the Portland Bight development,” the Finance Minister informed.
Dr. Phillips noted that expansion of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is critical to sustaining economic growth in the country.
He said this is why the Government, through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), continues to focus on mobilising the sector with programmes such as the voucher system and other tools to become more modern and efficient.
“Equally important, is the fact that the expansion of entrepreneurship at this level is the only sustainable way of broadening ownership of the economy and achieving a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the country,” Minister Phillips noted.
Dr. Phillips said the Government will work to ensure that the gains made under the ERP are not eroded by demands to increase spending.
He said the Government appreciates demands made by public sector workers for higher wages but reiterates that “what the Government has offered in the wage negotiations is what we can afford at this time.”
“We will have to continue to live within our means. In order to spend more on wages we will have to earn more, and we can only earn more by attracting greater levels of investment, local and foreign, which will provide employment for more Jamaicans,” he stressed.
The Finance and Planning Minister said that sustained economic growth continues to be the ultimate objective of the ERP.
This, he said, is the only way that the country will be able to provide jobs and improve the lives of Jamaican families.
“I cannot repeat often enough, that economic growth takes place when we are able to sell goods and services to people in global markets at competitive prices,” he noted.
“Yes, much more remains to be done, but we have to build on the gains that have been made and not abandon our course. Let us continue to work together to bring growth and sustained economic development to Jamaica,” the Finance Minister concluded.