Editorial

Be careful now, Mr Aubyn Hill

Thursday, August 28, 2014    

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WE were a bit taken aback by the speed with which Mr Aubyn Hill, head of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) economic council, rushed to rebut this week's statement on inflation by Bank of Jamaica Governor Mr Brian Wynter.

Mr Hill appeared in a radio interview to be fretful that Mr Wynter had put too positive a spin on the state of the economy, when the central bank governor told journalists that the Jamaican economy is showing unprecedented resilience to inflationary shocks.

The governor attributed this resilience to the transformation of the economy taking place under Jamaica's four-year Extended Fund Facility programme with the International Monetary Fund.

He also noted that growth in the June quarter should be around one to two per cent on an annualised basis, making it the fourth consecutive quarter of economic growth, and in line with the one to two per cent projected for the full fiscal year. Additionally, growth in the September quarter may be slower due to the impact of drought on agricultural production, although the governor expected growth to rise to the two to three per cent range in the medium term.

Within hours of the news hitting the airwaves, Mr Hill was himself on air accusing the central bank governor of employing "a good way of saying there is no growth".

We don't wish to discourage Mr Hill from giving his views on the state of the economy. In fact, we were positively intrigued by the announcement that he had agreed to head up the JLP's economic council, hoping that he would be more of an honest analytical voice, even if not an economist, than a politico.

The question is: Who are we to believe when announcements are made on the country's economic performance, Mr Wynter or Mr Hill?

We have to believe that Mr Wynter is relying on the figures assembled by all the State entities to come to a conclusion on economic performance. If he says there is growth, no matter how small, the country needs for good order to be able to accept that there is growth.

Mr Hill, it appears, has other figures, from whence we know not, to contradict Mr Wynter on his claim that there is growth.

At the very least, Mr Hill should share these figures with the country so that the rest of us can see that the central bank governor is leading us down the garden path.

Otherwise, Mr Hill could blame no one for thinking that he is unhappy to hear anything positive about economic performance and that he may well be metamorphosing into the type of politician we need to put behind us.

Jamaicans have played the old game of opposing for the sake of opposing for much too long. We hope that our worry about Mr Hill is unfounded.

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