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'Do something!' JCC says Gov’t must act now or risk disaster

Friday, January 11, 2013    

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THE Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) yesterday told the Government to make "firm and decisive" decisions to resuscitate the ailing economy, saying that if nothing is done the country's future could be "fatally compromised".

Noting that the country has run out of the "familiar options", JCC President Francis Kennedy said, "Doing little or nothing or kicking the can further down the road hoping that somehow everything will turn out all right during the interim is one of the reasons that we are where we are."

He said the "short-sightedness of the view has not only resulted in an accumulation of structural problems in the economy, but has also resulted in squandered opportunities.

"We have been busily and noisily marking time or losing ground, while many of our former peers have quietly moved way past us," Kennedy said in a release.

Additionally, he said despite the fact that the country has the potential to do many meaningful things, such as achieving consistent growth, we have "wasted many years and in the process short-changed the dreams of many through unwillingness to make decisions that might do harm to the political prospects of either of the two dominant parties".

"That shallow, short-sighted thinking has held our country back for decades," Kennedy stated.

Yesterday's release came as Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and her 19 other Cabinet colleagues were locked in the first day of a three-day retreat, the fourth since the People's National Party took over the reins of the country a year ago.

The Government has come in for harsh criticisms — which have grown louder in recent weeks — for the hapless state of the economy, that is marked by lack of growth, joblessness and the Administration's failure to reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund, after setting several deadlines.

Yesterday, Kennedy said what should be taken from the situation with the IMF "is that the multilateral community sees little reason to provide support if they see little evidence that we are prepared to take the hard but necessary decisions".

"The country has little wiggle room and must now, finally, put its energies into effecting an agenda of growth and into introducing stringent efficiencies in the public sector," he said.

Kennedy said the Simpson Miller-led Cabinet must emerge from its retreat with "clear and unambiguous evidence" that it "is seized by the realisation that it cannot be business as usual and that it must make the decisions that will place our country on a path of sustainable growth".

The JCC's pronouncements came a day after the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the island's most powerful private sector group, said the country was headed for an economic crisis if no deal is reached with the IMF.

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