Mr. Speaker, in rising to close this debate, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of all the participants.
The Most Honourable Prime Minister yesterday set out with clarity the record of this administration in mobilising the national community around the Economic Reform Programme (ERP), which is on track and has already returned the Jamaican economy to growth.
Simultaneously, she has indicated the effective steps taken by the administration to protect the poor and vulnerable and to ensure that each sector makes its contribution to the national effort.Minister Roger Clarke is to be congratulated along with his team and the farming community for the phenomenal growth that the country is witnessing in agriculture. Food security continues to be a major plank of our Economic Reform Programme.While there is much that has divided us in this debate there has nevertheless been a consensus around two critical imperatives:

(i)                  The need to reduce our public debt, which is far too high and has become a stranglehold on the national economy; and,

(ii)                The urgency of restoring the economy to sustained growth.

That a national consensus should exist around these two critical priorities is a good thing, and it can only redound to the national good that the priorities of debt reduction and economic growth have been the central themes in this debate.

It is unfortunate that throughout our history in modern Jamaica, a consensus around the essentials of our development path and the strategies to achieve developmental goals has eluded us as a nation.

The truth is, we have too often allowed the pursuit of partisan political advantage, as well as, the narrow self interest of different social and economic groups to weaken and divide the national effort. This has certainly weakened the level of social cohesion required for nation building.

This sense of togetherness, this sense of being part of a joint endeavour and a common mission is what the political economists refer to as social capital and it is unfortunately in short-supply in Jamaica.

A survey conducted a few years ago by the Centre for Leadership and Governance at the University of the West Indies (UWI) highlighted the fact that some 73 per cent of Jamaicans said they trusted no one but themselves or believed that most people would take advantage of them. This survey also revealed that 60 per cent of the population believed you can only trust yourself.

In the context of our economic reform programme and all the difficulties and sacrifice that it involves and which will persist, for some time yet there is a special responsibility which we in this House will have to accept…READ MORE

Download the Closing Presentation by Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance and Planning Budget Debate 2014-15



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