Opposition concerned about economy dipping into negative growth

Saturday, October 07, 2017

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THE Opposition People's National Party says it is concerned that, after having set the platform for growth by successfully implementing reforms of the Jamaican economy which resulted in consecutive quarters of positive growth from January 2015, the positive trend has been broken by Jamaica dipping into negative growth for the second quarter of 2017.

“Despite setting up the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation headed by the prime minister, and despite last year's fanfare about achieving five per cent GDP (gross domestic product) growth in four years, the JLP Government has now presided over the economy's first slide into negative growth territory since the successful turnaround in 2014. This is very disappointing for all Jamaicans,” Senator Mark Golding, Opposition spokesperson for finance, is quoted as saying in a release from the party.

“We note that the minister of finance's interim Fiscal Policy Paper dated September 26, 2017, tabled in Parliament last week, erroneously stated that there was growth of 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, only to be contradicted a few days later by the Statistical Institute's confirmation that there was in fact negative growth of 0.1 per cent for that quarter.

“This is a substantial negative variation of 0.4 per cent of GDP. No explanation has been provided for this embarrassing and material discrepancy,” Golding said.

The Opposition said it is also alarmed that the Government has now made a significant downward adjustment to its medium-term growth forecast, placing further doubt on the credibility of the 'five-in-four' growth target.

Whereas the September 2016 Fiscal Policy Paper projected growth of 2.2 per cent, 3.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent for the fiscal years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/2020, the Opposition said the September 2017 Fiscal Policy Paper has slashed those projections to 1.7 per cent, 2.7 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively.

Senator Golding continued: “This substantial reduction in the Government's official growth forecast, in stark contrast to the 'five-in-four', demands an explanation from the prime minister.

“...Why is the Government now officially projecting growth of just 2.3 per cent in 2019/20, the year when the EGC (Economic Growth Council) has said we should be achieving five per cent?” Golding asked.




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