Business

Holness says gov't looking to reform of the public sector

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 22, 2017

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness says that his g overnment is looking forward to the reform of the public sector and the benefits it will create for the country.

According to him, reform of the public sector will be geared towards making it easier for small and medium- sized businesses to start, grow and flourish.

“Reform of our public sector will make it easier for our SME's to procure licences and permits and to comply with regulations, and most importantly to pay your taxes.

“Reform of our public sector will provide rewarding career options for Jamaica's brightest minds. While big businesses may be able to absorb or even pass on the cost imposed by length and efficient processes, these retard our small/medium-sized enterprises greatly which in turn effect a lower level of growth and employment.

“Emerging from the spiral will require us to confront what we have avoided for so long — comprehensive reform of our public sector,” Holness said in a response to the statement from the visiting team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which concluded a 10-day visit to Jamaica last week.

He said that Jamaicans should not take for granted the successful conclusion of the reviews of the economy under the current precautionary Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He acknowledged that the current six monthly reviews under the SBA are more difficult than the three-month reviews of the previous Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement, under the previous government, which ended last October.

He also noted that during their stay, the review team led by Dr Uma Ramakrishnan held extensive consultations with ministries, departments and agencies, and engaged in detailed data analysis and benchmarking.

“We're grateful to them and to their colleagues in Washington for the work that they have done and their continued support,” he said.

Turning to the issue of ownership of the country's economic road map, Holness said that, in some ways, it represents a graduation for Jamaica.

“But I'm reluctantly saying this, because it doesn't mean that it is any easier. In fact, it is much more difficult than before,” he stated.

“The lower frequency of reviews means greater responsibility for Jamaica. It means that the Government has to take ownership for the successful performance to targets, so that when we have passed them, it is a sign that the government is slowly but surely taking greater ownership of the policy goals and objective and, with the passage of time, the government will eventually, without the help of the IMF, have to take ownership and responsibility for the good institutional management of its affairs.

“Ownership means implementing policies, because those policies are right and not because we have a review to pass or because we're in need of a drawdown or because we are in need of an expression of international support. Ownership means making the difficult choices by ourselves without external cajoling or covers.

“If we, as a country, aspire for greatness, then we must do the great things, we must do the right things because they are right.

“As the IMF chief has mentioned, though this review, the second of six semi-annual reviews, has been successfully completed, Jamaica is not yet out of the woods. The inheritance of our generation is a Jamaica with an outstanding reputation in the world with vigorous and robust democratic tradition and with a champion national spirit and for this we're all grateful as Jamaicans. however, another aspect of our inheritance is a Jamaica that has not yet achieved economic independence.

“A Jamaica dependent on outside assistance as we're currently structured, debt service obligations and public sector emoluments approximate 90 percent of tax revenues leaving precious little for spending on hospitals, schools, parks, roads, courthouses and national security.

“This state of affairs defines our inheritance; it falls to us to ensure that we bequeath a future to generations to come that can stand on their own in a world that is growing and that we are also growing. This is the voyage on which we're now embarked.

“In concluding, with the support of the IMF and other multilateral partners, Jamaica has demonstrated incredible and unbroken resolve in its economic reform agenda. We have many successes of which we can be proud of; however much remains to be done. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to the task at hand; the task of ensuring that we secure for future generations a Jamaica that is economically independent and can one day be net contributor to the international community,” he ended.

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