Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond Camp­bell/ Se­nior Staff Re­porter

RIP­PING INTO the An­drew Hol­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion for dis­card­ing its much-talked-about tar­get of five per cent gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth in four years, Op­po­si­tion Spokesman on Fi­nance and Plan­ning Mark Gold­ing said the countr y was now left to won­der whether it was a se­ri­ous tar­get or “just a grand pub­lic-re­la­tions scheme”.

In his maiden con­tri­bu­tion to the Bud­get De­bate in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, Gold­ing sug­gested that the Gov­ern­ment’s model of estab­lish­ing an Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC) com­pris­ing “mostly of very wealthy busi­ness­men” to drive eco­nomic growth was not in­clu­sive and lacked the in­put of di­verse stake­hold­ers.

“We see the drive for growth as part of a broader vi­sion of na­tional devel­op­ment in­volv­ing the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion by all stake­hold­ers who make up our so­ci­ety – the small busi­nesses, the farm­ers, the trade unions, the trans­port op­er­a­tors, the pub­lic ser­vice, the churches, the en­ter­tain­ers who are so in­flu­en­tial over the minds of our youths,” said Gold­ing.

He told his par­lia­men­tary col­leagues

that he was alarmed that the Gov­ern­ment had sig­nif­i­cantly ad­justed down­ward its medium-term growth fore­cast, “con­firm­ing that the ‘five-in-four’ was never a real tar­get”.

The Septem­ber 2016 Fis­cal Polic y Pa­per pro­jected growth rates of 2.2 per cent, 3.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent for the fis­cal years 2017-18, 201819 and 2019-2020. “Those pro­jec­tions were based on the path that we had forged for the econ­omy,” Gold­ing as­serted.

How­ever, he pointed to the fis­cal pol­icy pa­per tabled by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Aud­ley Shaw last week, which has slashed those pro­jec­tions to 0.9 per cent, 2.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent, re­spec­tively.

“This sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in the Gov­ern­ment’s of­fi­cial growth fore­cast, in stark con­trast to the imag­i­nary ‘five-in-four’, de­mands an ex­pla­na­tion from the Gov­ern­ment. Sadly, none has been forth­com­ing. On be­half of the peo­ple, I ask again: Was the ‘five-in-four’ just a pub­lic-re­la­tions stunt, or was it a pipe dream?”

The shadow fi­nance min­is­ter charged that, in its two years i n of­fice, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has sig­nif­i­cantly missed its growth tar­gets and the highly touted EGC and the “mas­sive bu­reau­cratic struc­ture called the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Growth and Job Cre­ation have been yield­ing very dis­ap­point­ing re­sults. That min­istry should be called the Min­istry of Ev­ery­thing and Noth­ing”.

With the Gov­ern­ment blam­ing its missed growth tar­gets, in part, on heavy rain­fall, Gold­ing noted that Ja­maica was spared any ma­jor weath­er­re­lated shocks in 2017.

“This un­der­scores the lack of re­silience in our econ­omy to with­stand even mildly un­usual weather con­di­tions,” Gold­ing said. “In­deed, for the whole of cal­en­dar year 2017, the Ja­maican econ­omy only grew by 0.5 per cent, which is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than in 2015 and 2016. This un­der­per­for­mance is also in stark con­trast to world growth of over three per cent, and growth in the United States and the Eu­ro­zone of about 2.5 per cent in 2017,” he added.



Op­po­si­tion Spokesman on Fi­nance Mark Gold­ing shows Fi­nance MIn­is­ter Aud­ley Shaw a Gleaner re­port in which he had promised notto raise taxes to fund the $1.5m in­come tax break. Gold­ing was de­liv­er­ing his maiden presentation to the Bud­get De­bate at Gor­don House on Tues­day.


Op­po­si­tion Spokesman on Fi­nance Mark Gold­ing be­ing con­grat­u­lated by fel­low par­lia­men­tar­i­ans af­ter de­liv­er­ing his maiden presentation to the Bud­get De­bate in Gor­don House on Tues­day.

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