Gov’t wage bill, debt payment too high, says Phillips
KINGSTON, Jamaica - Minister of Finance and Planning, Peter Phillips, has emphasised that the country cannot persist with spending 80 per cent of the budget on wages and debt payments.
“This is what we mean when we say the debt stifles the country’s potential for development, because it is the 20 cents that remain out of each dollar that is left for the programmes and the capital investments,” Phillips said, adding that due to the high debt payment, there isn’t enough money to fix roads and health centres across the island.
“It means that we (Jamaica) have to make some choices that say we will make the adjustments in the next few years, so that we can get back on to an effective development path for the future. That is our obligation, not only to ourselves, but also to future generations,” Phillips said.
The Finance Minister said between 1973 and 2012 the average growth of the Jamaican economy has been less than one per cent per annum, noting that for the same period the country’s debt has “multiplied seven times.”
“So, what we have to recognise is that we cannot borrow our way to prosperity. It doesn’t equate in any language. So, what we have to do now is to find the collective will to go forward,” Phillips said.
He added that the “trust deficit” that exists between Jamaica and the international community is also within individual communities.
“Can we find, like in any household, the collective will to say here is an objective on behalf of the Jamaican family and can we achieve it? If we don’t do it, then as the proverbial saying goes, ‘Dog nyam wi suppa’,” the minister said.