HOPEWELL, Hanover — The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is calling on the Portia Simpson Miller led Administration to articulate the economic expansion strategy that will be implemented to fill the vacuum created by the reduction in Government spending that will come with inking a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Last Friday, the head of the IMF mission to Jamaica Jan Kees Martijn announced that the fund had reached a staff-level agreement and that a letter of intent would be forwarded to the IMF's Board of Governors for approval. The announcement came three days after the Government announced a new $16-billion tax package and launched the National Debt Exchange — the second debt exchange programme in three years.
On Saturday, JLP Deputy Leader Christopher Tufton said it was incumbent on the Government to state clearly how it plans to grow the economy amidst the challenges.
"Announcements that include a tax package and an IMF agreement is going to mean more challenging and trying times for the average Jamaican. It is going to mean less expenditure by Government; it's going to mean a tightening up for the private sector, who will have to confront with debt exchange, as well as paying more taxes and ultimately a trickle down of those taxes to the average person on the road," Dr Tufton said.
"What we have not heard coming out of the Government at this point — even while we recognise that difficult decisions had to have been made — is an approach towards the economic expansion that is necessary to address the joblessness and the uncertainty that the average Jamaican is facing," lamented the JLP deputy leader.
"It seems to me that they (Government) should articulate, with some amount of certainty, how they are going to [approach] economic expansion and job creation within the country. What we have seen in the last announcement is an attempt at contraction... but no commensurate strategy to address the Jamaican people," he added.
Dr Tufton was addressing members of the media following a JLP Region Four retreat in Hopewell. The region comprises the parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St Elizabeth.
In the meantime, JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, who lamented the tax package Government announced last week Tuesday, expressed that his party will not only criticise but stands ready to offer the nation an alternative approach to the economical problems.
"What we see is a taxation, which has been going on for the last 30 years; we have seen more contraction of the economy, which also has been going on for the past 30 years. We need to find a new route," Dr Chang said.
He said the JLP will be pursuing "more external activities that will engage the public in constructive discussions".
"We don't promise to go on the road, we are not anybody's nightmare. We are taking a new route in the politics of the country, so we will be going out to seminars with people in school rooms, in town halls and in church halls to talk to them so that they can not only hear us clearly, but we can define for them the kind of alternatives that will make sense for this country," Dr Chang emphasised.