Building a Foundation for Growth and Prosperity
Honourable Daryl Vaz, MP
Minister without Portfolio in the
Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation
June 28, 2016
Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct pleasure to be able to contribute to these Sectoral Debates.
It is a privilege to have been returned by my constituents of West Portland to serve a third consecutive term as
a member of this honourable House. Like our Prime Minister and the other members of our team, my dream
for my constituency and this country is to enable the type of growth and development that will make Jamaica a
prosperous nation, free from crime and violence and all the ills that have kept us back as a nation.
I was therefore honoured to take up the Prime Minister’s invitation to be a part of this new Ministry of Economic
Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC), and I valued our many conversations during the campaign period on how
we could move Jamaica forward.
Mr. Speaker, teamwork is everything, and I have a great team at this new Ministry that helps me to navigate
the uncharted waters.
I wish to extend heartfelt thanks to: Permanent Secretaries Audrey Sewell and Elaine Foster Allen; Director
General Sharon Crooks; the Heads of Agencies and Staff of the MEGJC and the Office of the Prime Minister and
the several Ministries, Agencies and local Authorities that work closely with me in the Government.
Mr. Speaker, the love and support of my family have, and will always be indispensable to my success. I wish to thank my father and mentor, Douglas Snr., for his guidance and my lovely wife, Ann–Marie, and our children for understanding my long hours away from home in the interest of giving 100% to my portfolio.
Family also means my Ministerial and Party colleagues, the people of West and East Portland, my colleague neighbouring MP, Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield; my Councillors and Councillor/Caretakers, the staff of my constituency office; the various interest and business groups, law enforcement officers and the residents of Portland, with whom we join hands and hearts.
Together we are going to put Portland back on the map as the place to live, work, raise families and do business, in keeping with the broad goals of Vision 2030. Indeed, I am proud to stand here today as a third-time member of this House. It has been a rewarding journey for me from 1986 when I began serving as a Councillor. My formula for success is simple; if you love the people, they will love you, if you respect them, they will respect you and if you serve them well, they will serve you.
Mr. Speaker, my task today is to share with this honourable House, the role and function of the new Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and to report on matters falling under the portfolio areas for which I have responsibility. In due course, my colleague Ministers, the Honourable Dr. Horace Chang and the Honourable Clifford E. Warmington, will address
the members on other areas including Water, Works and Housing, for which they have responsibility.
SITUATION ANALYSIS AND THE ROLE OF THE MEGJC
Mr. Speaker, between 2011 and 2015, we saw real GDP growth slow significantly from 1.7 to 0.8 per cent per year. Our productive sectors have experienced stagnation, with areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and services showing little or no growth.
We have been besieged by increases in prices, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showing an increase of 30% over the period, moving from 178.2 to 232.3, with high public debt and a resultant budget deficit of nearly J$40 billion at the end of 2015.
While unemployment has remained stable at just over 13 per cent, the rate of unemployment among youth at over 30 per cent, is a major cause for alarm. The World Bank has stated that our economy has ‘weakened’ and Jamaica is ‘one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world.’