'Rapid' devaluation of J$ driving up prices, says Phillips

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Leader of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Peter Phillips says that the continuous slide in the Jamaican dollar is unleashing hardship on ordinary citizens and the uncertainty surrounding the Government's economic policies has plunged the society into a state of confusion.

Phillips was speaking at the St Andrew South Western Constituency Conference on Sunday at the Caribbean Palms Community Centre on Spanish Town Road, when he told cheering comrades that “there can be no stable currency when there is policy instability”.

“They do not know what they are doing,” Phillips told Comrades, a PNP release said.

According to the release, the Opposition leader told the gathering that the dollar has been devaluing at such a rapid rate, it is driving up prices all around; a fact being denied by the government.

“The dollar is moving, moving, moving and prices are moving; you feel it, some people can't go the supermarket, others have to carry calculators to see how far the money is going to stretch. We told them that there is confusion in their action.

When we asked the government about the rapid slide of the Jamaica dollar, instead of telling us what they are doing to protect the dollar and the consumers, the government responded by saying we are seeking to politicise the issue,” he argued.

Phillips said that in 2011, the PNP inherited an economy that was on the brink of disaster.

“During our tenure, we said truthfully that the dollar was going to move but it will level off and it levelled off. When we were in office, Holness said that the dollar shouldn't move. He even wrote to the IMF, telling them that the dollar shouldn't move,” Phillips told the crowd.

“When Holness took office in March 2016, he flip-flopped on the dollar, allowing it to slide. He brought the head of the IMF here in 2017 and she said that the Jamaican dollar has reached close to the level.”

In his recap of events, Phillips said when Audley Shaw was finance minister, “…he said that the dollar must stop move and it reached $132 to one before it was revalued to $126 to one. The prime minister changed the minister of finance and the dollar started moving like a horse without bridle going around Caymanas Track on a Saturday evening.”

“The issue is not whether it moved when we were in charge or it is moving now with them in charge; it is the instability of the economy which is the real issue. Economic stability is supposed to be the policy of the government. It shouldn't be one minister holding the dollar steady and another one saying let the dollar slide. They can't manage. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing and the prime minister is giving one reason and the minister of finance is giving another reason while the dollar is running and it is time to usher them out,” Phillips said.

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