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Speech

The theme of the 11th annual Shirley Playfair Lecture “Competition Law and Policy” is very timely for a number of reasons.
Today and going forward, individuals, institutions, the private and public sectors and indeed the Government…all of us together.must now focus on the critical reality — that the ultimate and only solution to our economic dilemma is to grow the Jamaican economy. Every sector has a role to play and our collective action must be the guarantee to underpin our success.
Even as the economy is being nurtured back to good health, its ability to grow and drive the process of development must be supported by the efforts of all sectors and stakeholders. In this regard, the financial services sector and our commercial banks in particular have a critical responsibility.
After the trauma of the financial sector melt-down in the 1990s; the continued contraction of the economy; the suffocating impact of unsustainably high interest rates; a huge debt burden; the erosion in the value of our domestic currency; high and debilitating inflation and in general a loss of confidence by the productive sector in all efforts to grow the Jamaican economy; we took bold steps to correct what ails the economy, but more importantly we have undertaken measures to change the approach to governance and the culture of conducting business in Jamaica.
We are now moving in earnest to break the country from the syndrome of underdevelopment, liberate the economy from the shackles of high and expensive debt, reform the way public affairs are conducted, and fundamentally, shift the focus from the money illusion and paper profits to a vision of sustained growth and development through investments in the real economy of Jamaica.
Issues of production, productivity, competitiveness, savings and investment must become our national pre-occupation. Jamaica needs to generate sustained growth in excess of 3 per cent per year over the medium-term to allow for an improved standard of living for all its citizens. Over the last fifteen years we have recorded average annual growth of just 0.7 per cent. Given the size of the domestic economy, it is clear that the transition to a strong and sustained growth has to be led by the productive sector, our exporters in particular.