Hol­ness says Ja­maica could ex­ceed four-year growth tar­get

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Jo­van Johnson Staff Re­porter jo­van.johnson@glean­erjm.com

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness (sec­ond right) is joined by (from left) ATL Group Deputy Chair­man and CEO Adam Stewart Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC) Chair­man Michael Lee-Chin, and Nigel Clarke, am­bas­sador plenipo­ten­tiary for eco­nomic af­fairs, to cel­e­brate dur­ing Mon­day night’s sign­ing cer­e­mony and call to ac­tion at the Courtleigh Au­di­to­rium in New Kingston. PRIME MIN­IS­TER An­drew Hol­ness has in­di­cated that eco­nomic growth could, in four years, ex­ceed the five-per-cent tar­get set by his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Hol­ness has es­tab­lished an Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC) that has a mandate to help the Gov­ern­ment achieve five per cent gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) growth in four years.

On Mon­day night, ad­dress­ing the sign­ing of a dec­la­ra­tion of in­tent to im­ple­ment the EGC pro­pos­als, Hol­ness said Ja­maica “de­served re­sults” and that the so-called ‘5 in 4’ tar­get could be ex­ceeded.

He noted the sac­ri­fices made by Ja­maicans un­der the fouryear deal with the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF).

“There’s no ques­tion about it. We will grow and we will prob­a­bly grow faster than five per cent. The world is now pay­ing at­ten­tion,” Hol­ness said, point­ing to the tough measures im­posed un­der the IMF deal.

“This Gov­ern­ment will make sure that we are faith­ful to the sac­ri­fices that the peo­ple have paid. We de­serve re­sults. We will make Ja­maica the great coun­try that we were des­tined to be.”

THE TAX-BREAK PROM­ISE

Hol­ness’ pro­jec­tion comes a week af­ter fi­nance min­is­ter Aud­ley Shaw re­ported that Ja­maica recorded 2.3 per cent growth for the July to Septem­ber quar­ter, the high­est in a sin­gle quar­ter since 2002.

But crime con­tin­ues to im­pede growth with calls for funds to be di­verted from ful­fill­ing the tax-break elec­tion prom­ise to pro­vide more re­sources to the se­cu­rity forces.

Nev­er­the­less, a con­fi­dent EGC chair­man, Michael LeeChin, re-as­serted that the growth tar­get would be achieved.

“I wouldn’t have stuck my neck out,” he said when asked if the tar­get will be met.

He pointed to favourable in­di­ca­tors such as low en­ergy and tele­com prices, the sup­port of the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, the Op­po­si­tion and the Gov­ern­ment.

Hol­ness es­tab­lished the EGC to pro­pose growth ini­tia­tives and mon­i­tor their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Some of them have been in­cluded in the pro­posed standby agree­ment that the board of the IMF is to con­sider this month.

The Plan­ning In­sti­tute of Ja­maica has pro­jected 1.7 per cent GDP growth this fis­cal year.

Over the last 20 years, Ja­maica has av­er­aged GDP growth of 0.5 per cent per an­num.

PA­TRICK PLANTER/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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