Senator Wehby of Jamaica outlines Jamaica’s outlook of financial crisis

MIAMI – Jamaica’s Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Senator Hon. Don Wehby has stated that a planning committee established by the Jamaican Government will have its first meeting early next week to address ways of how the country would be able to navigate its way through the current economic crisis.

He was speaking Wednesday (Dec. 3) at the plenary session of the 32nd annual Miami Conference of the Caribbean and Central America at the Miami Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

Hon. Don Wehby

Addressing the theme “Financial Fallout – Is the Government Ready” Minister Wehby said that the social partnership comprised representatives from the Government and the Opposition, the
private sector and labor unions.

Meanwhile, the Minister pointed to the usefulness of regular monetary committee meetings with the Bank of Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica in monitoring the impact of the financial meltdown on the nation’s economy.

While the Jamaican Government was in dialogue with multilateral funding agencies to address the concerns at this time, Mr. Wehby emphasized to his audience the need for the Caribbean region to unite in an effort to take steps to work closely to sustain their economies.

In response to government’s efforts in preparation, the Minister outlined areas that were being monitored with necessary action taking place to mitigate the impact on the economy for short term while long term measures were addressed.

He mentioned response from the Inter-Development Bank (IDB) and the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) for funding to help the financial sector, to stimulate the productive sector and maintain financial stability.

While the numbers for tourist arrivals seemed encouraging so far, the Minister asserted that aggressive advertising had been taken to support this industry, adding that a five percent (5%) increase was projected for the winter months with added flights from Europe and Canada. He indicated that despite the problems, figures were showing an increase over last year.

Regarding remittances, the Minister explained that this industry remained steady as persons in the Diaspora used this area as a means of personal consumption.

Describing remittances as a ‘unique industry’ he said that data in this area indicated an increase in October, and showed a consistent yearly increase. The Minister expressed optimism that he did not foresee an immediate disaster in this regard.

He further pointed out that the current reduction in oil prices was expected to create savings of more than $1 billion (US), indicating that the impact of the reduction for this commodity would be advantageous to the economy.

Participants at the three-day conference which began on Monday (Dec. 1) were primarily focused on the current financial crisis and the ensuing economic downturn on the Caribbean and Latin American economies.

A series of panel meetings, plenary sessions and round table discussions brought together Caribbean leaders, representatives from the government and private sectors, and the civil society to address topics examining the challenges and opportunities affecting the region during the meltdown. Other subject matters included agribusiness, energy, telecommunications, transportation and logistics, tourism, disaster preparedness and maritime security.

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