PM says economic performance will continue to improve

RETREAT, Westmoreland — Prime Minister Andrew Holness said his Administration has delivered on improved economic performance and this is something that his Government will ensure continues.

Holness argued that while some critics have tried to decry everything and bad-mouth the Government, one cannot deny the achievements made.

“We are going to do our best to ensure that it continues because it is in the continuation of good economic performance that we are going to be able to deliver the things that you want,” assured Holness as he referred to the common cry for basic necessities.

Holness was addressing a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of 60 housing units by Sheffield Palms Development at Retreat in Westmoreland last Friday.

According to Holness, “The argument is no longer about the economy and its ability to deliver. The argument, though, is how do we share up the dividends of good economic performance.”

“How much more pay should I get? How much more houses we must build? Why not more water supply for us versus some other community with water supply? So the conversation has shifted because the fundamentals of the country have shifted,” argued Holness.

The prime minister, in making his case, pointed to the statistics and its benefit to the people.

“It means something when you have eight consecutive quarters of economic growth, it means something when our unemployment rate is the lowest in our recorded history of statistics. It means something when our net international reserves now stand at US $4.14 billion.

“It is not so long ago, because I know sometimes they argue like we were always there. In 2013, we were on the brink, we didn’t even have 13 weeks of imports. But we forget. Exports for the first time in a long time has shown an increase of 55 per cent over [the] last quarter, last year,” stated Holness.

“Export is not even something that we will report on, but the greatest metric of the performance is that our debt-to-GDP [gross domestic product] ratio, which was as high as 150 per cent, is projected at the end of this fiscal to be about 74 per cent,” he added.

“This is a sacrifice that you all have made and we have to keep steady hands on the economy,” stated the prime minister, who noted that “the benefit of our economic performance has to be used wisely. And in the interest of the people, we must control corruption”.

“The economic benefits cannot be frittered away, cannot be creamed off the top whilst people are suffering. We have to make a commitment to ensuring that the most vulnerable in our midst are protected,” added Holness.

At the same time, the prime minister has warned that there is also no place for disunity.

“So it means that sometimes you will have to compromise. It means you may have to exercise greater patience. You must resist the temptation to divide among classes and social and economic strata because you have persons who are pushing that line. We are one people. We are one Jamaica, and we are going to make decisions for everyone to the benefit of the country,” stated Holness.