Jamaican Gov’t focused on steering country through economic crisis

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaican Government will be concentrating its efforts this year on steering the country through the current crisis and building a solid foundation for recovery and growth.

Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen, made the announcement in his first Throne Speech to open the 2009/10 Parliamentary Year Tuesday (April 7), in Gordon House.

Acknowledging that the new session of Parliament was beginning in the throes of severe global economic challenges, the Governor-General pointed to the struggling bauxite sector, shrinking markets, reduced access to capital and remittance flows, and job losses, as evidence of the crisis.

Governor-General, His Excellency the Most. Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen delivering the Throne Speech at the State Opening of Parliament for the 2009/2010 session of Parliament

He said the projections, which underpinned last year’s budget, would have to be revised in light of the challenges but cautioned that the Government had very little room to maneuver, given the macroeconomic challenges.

“These adjustments cannot be painless nor can they be avoided. The sacrifices that must be made must be shared equitably and must be geared toward building a strong foundation for recovery and growth,” he stated.

Dr. Allen also noted that increased public expenditure was not an option for countering the crisis, saying it would be a “reckless approach that would be punished immediately by the market and would have grave consequences for the future.”

He said, instead, that the Government would be focusing its efforts on initiatives such as tax reform, to ensure sustained revenue flow and a simple, equitable and investment-friendly tax system.

New debt-management strategies would also be employed, he said, to ease the debt service burden and create fiscal space for growth-generating initiatives.

Dr. Allen also used his presentation to exhort Parliamentarians to “demonstrate extraordinary leadership that these extraordinary times demand.”

Meanwhile, the Governor-General said that despite the current hardships, there was much for which Jamaicans should be thankful. He pointed out that the country’s banks have remained strong, sound, and well regulated. He added that while vacation travel has dwindled, Jamaica still experienced an increase in stopover arrivals last year.

“Let us not forget that despite the darkness, which hung over us, our athletes lit up the world with their astonishing performance at the Olympics in Beijing, winning 11 medals,” Dr. Allen continued.

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