Jamaica’s PM Identifies Areas of Growth for the Economy

KINGSTON, Jamaica – A program to stimulate economic growth to alleviate problems brought on by the financial crisis, will be taken to Parliament next month.

Addressing the official opening ceremony for the Scotiabank Group’s financial centre in Kingston Thursday (August 20), Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding named some areas of the projected programme, which include energy, agriculture, telecommunications and tourism.

In making the announcement, Mr. Golding stressed the importance of an energy policy, which has already been presented to Cabinet. “We’re not going to be able to make it in this world if our producers are paying 26 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and competing against producers elsewhere who are paying between six and 12 cents per kilowatt hour and competing against our counterparts in Trinidad, who are paying three cents per kilowatt hour,” he said.

“We have made significant progress and preliminary negotiations have been put in place in terms of a long term supplier for LNG. The recommendation before us now is to move away from what was originally contemplated, which was fixed installation, to a floating platform system which I’m advised is more cost effective. We have negotiations underway with three different countries to secure those long term supplies,” he added.

Hon. PM Bruce Golding

Mr. Golding cited agriculture as another area that will be given much support to play a more effective role in driving the economy. “Accounting now for less than six per cent of GDP, we think it can do much more. I have a lot of faith and confidence in the team that we have at the Ministry of Agriculture, led by Dr. Christopher Tufton.”

Mr. Golding said the Agriculture Ministry has achieved 10 per cent growth in the first quarter of this year and nine per cent in the second quarter; and added that the Planning Institute of Jamaica has confirmed that the sector has been recovering to what it was prior to the last two hurricanes.

The telecommunications sector has also been identified as an area of growth. “The sector is so dynamic and the changes that take place in terms of the technology so rapid, that new opportunities are constantly being created,” Mr. Golding said. The Prime Minister said a new policy framework has been developed which is to be submitted to Cabinet and this will form the basis of the government attracting significant investments in the area.

“I expect to make an announcement in a short while that is very significant to what we consider to be the possibilities in that area for foreign exchange earnings and significant job creation,” he said.

Mr. Golding said tourism has done well and accredited this to the work being done by Minister Ed Bartlett and his team. “There’s no other tourism destination in the Caribbean that has been able to hold its numbers.our value is down by about four per cent, but our number is up by about four per cent. It has taken a lot of work and I want to pay tribute also to the private hotel operators, because they have worked hard,” the Prime Minister said.

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