JIS News

Following the opening Budget presentation by Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies on Thursday April 15, several sector leaders are upbeat about the prospects for growth in the economy.
Commenting on the achievability of the fiscal targets in an interview with JIS News this week, Group Managing Director of National Commercial Bank, Aubyn Hill, noted that positive signs were being portrayed. This, he said, was evidenced by the trend of the fiscal deficit and the falling interest rates, which have not impacted the exchange rate. For the current fiscal year, a budget deficit of between three and four per cent has been projected while for the next fiscal year (2005/06) the government is projecting a balanced budget. The budget deficit for the last fiscal year was 5.8 per cent, falling within the government’s projection of between five and six per cent.
On the matter of whether the prospects for economic growth was substantial enough to address the nation’s debt, which represents 69 per cent, or $226 billion of the $328 billion budget, Mr. Hill pointed out that the growth being experienced in the financial, tourism, mining and production sectors boded well for the economy.
“We have to grow ourselves out of the fiscal deficit and not just cut, and for that to happen, the government has to find ways to continue to push those interest rates down and they seem certainly so far to be going in the right direction,” he pointed out.
Noting the trending down of interest rates, whereby the Bank of Jamaica in the last fiscal year slashed interest rates 14 times, he said this was another positive sign “but it has to continue to fall,” he asserted.
Furthermore the Group Managing Director said that the government needed to manage more efficiently by adopting a management approach to break down costs and enforce accountability. “Whatever is measured and monitored should get done,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Broilers Group, Robert Levy, in expressing similar sentiments, noted that the administration’s attempt to reduce its debts was a good one and pointed out that while there were pressure areas in the country, it would be necessary at times to wait until the money was available before doing so if the Government were to realize its targets.

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