Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure and a sense of humility that I rise in this honourable House today to make my contribution to the sectoral debate – my very first as Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce. It is made more special since the opportunity comes in the year when our nation celebrates its first 50 years of independence. The opportunity to influence the course of our great nation for the next 50 years, is the dream of all patriots. We here are especially privileged.
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-appointment to your now familiar position. I commend your able deputy as well for an “ever-ready” posture. Mr. Speaker, your measured handling of the affairs of the House is a credit to the high office you hold, and I pledge my personal support in assisting you in the discharge of your sometimes difficult task.
I wish to thank my constituents for their unwavering support. To my special adviser, Reginald Nugent, the Permanent Secretary,Agency Heads, Board membersand staff of the Ministry, I say a big thank you for being the wind beneath my wings. To my wife and members of my family…I am grateful for your patience and understanding. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude.
Mr. Speaker, in the discharge of Ministerial leadership I am ably assisted by my Minister of State who I must report is standing in for me at official functions in Washington D.C. even as I speak.
I want also to acknowledge the strong support of my colleagues in Cabinet, and on both sides of the House for your constructive criticism and your selfless dedication to Jamaica … land we love.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure I speak for all of my colleagues on this side when I say that it has been a great privilege to serve under the leadership of the Most Honourable Prime Minister. In her absence, I say for the record thank you, Madam Prime Minister, for your confidence in the fact that my nearly 20 years of experience in government, wearing several different hats, coupled with my involvement in the development of the Progressive Agenda, has prepared me for this critical task – the task of being a catalyst to change the way we do business, and getting government and the private sector to perform at their optimum, to perform, as we like to say in Jamaica “to the max."
Mr. Speaker, a Private/Public Partnership (PPP) is the only way forward, the only way we can change track from decades of anaemic growth, onto a glide path to sustain growth with jobs. But, simply wanting the change is not enough. There are some critical questions which we must ask ourselves. What is our growth strategy? And having answered that… How are we going to achieve it? One thing is clear Mr. Speaker… if we are to achieve growth, with jobs, it cannot be business as usual.
2.0 The Global Context
Mr. Speaker, the global economic recovery that got underway in 2010 produced real GDP growth of 3.8%, which was largely the result of the economic performance of emerging and developing economies. The advanced economies were reported to have registered growth of 1.6%, several points off historical growth performance. The World Bank-issued advisory in its newly-released Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2012 report indicated that growth forecasts have been significantly downgraded. The global economy is now expected to expand 2.5 and 3.1 percent in 2012 and 2013, versus the 3.6 percent projected in June for both years. Developing country growth has been revised down to 5.4 and 6.0 percent versus 6.2 and 6.3 percent in the June projections.
In addition, the Bank indicated that slower growth is already visible in weakening global trade and commodity prices. Global exports of goods and services expanded an estimated 6.6 percent in 2011 (down from 12.4 percent in 2010), and are projected to rise by only 4.7 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, global prices of energy, metals and minerals, and agricultural products are down 10, 25 and 19 percent respectively since peaks in early 2011. The report also issued a call for the developing countries to “prepare for further downside risks, as Euro Area debt problems and weakening growth in several big emerging economies are dimming global growth prospects”. Growth forecast for 2012 were lowered to 5.4 percent for developing countries and 1.4 percent for high-income countries (-0.3 percent for the Euro Area), down from its June estimates of 6.2 and 2.7 percent (1.9 percent for the Euro Area), respectively.
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