09 Oct OPPOSITION RAISES ALARM ABOUT ECONOMY DIPPING INTO NEGATIVE GROWTH
The Opposition People’s National Party is concerned that, after having set the platform for growth by successfully implementing important reforms of the Jamaican economy, resulting in nine (9) consecutive quarters of positive growth from January 2015, the positive trend has been broken by Jamaica dipping into negative growth for the second quarter of 2017.
“Despite setting up the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation headed by the Prime Minister, and despite last year’s fanfare about achieving five per cent GDP growth in four years, the JLP Government has now presided over the economy’s first slide into negative growth territory since the successful turnaround in 2014. This is very disappointing for all Jamaicans,” said Senator Mark Golding, Opposition Spokesperson for Finance and Planning.
“We note that the Minister of Finance’s interim Fiscal Policy Paper dated September 26, 2017, tabled in Parliament last week, erroneously stated that there was growth of 0.3% in the second quarter, only to be contradicted a few days later by the Statistical Institute’s confirmation that there was in fact negative growth of 0.1% for that quarter. This is a substantial negative variation of 0.4% of GDP. No explanation has been provided for this embarrassing and material discrepancy.”
The Opposition is also alarmed that the Government has now made a significant downward adjustment to its medium-term growth forecast, placing further doubt on the credibility of the much-hyped ‘five-in-four’ growth target. Whereas the September 2016 Fiscal Policy Paper projected growth of 2.2%, 3.3% and 3.2% for the fiscal years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/2020, the September 2017 Fiscal Policy Paper has slashed those projections to 1.7%, 2.7% and 2.3% respectively.
Senator Golding continued – “This substantial reduction in the Government’s official growth forecast, in stark contrast to the ‘five-in-four’, demands an explanation from the Prime Minister. Is ‘five-in-four’ now just a public relations fantasy being sold to the Jamaican people? If not, why is the Government now officially projecting growth of just 2.3% in 2019/20, the year when the EGC has said we should be achieving 5%?”