JAMAICA: A good budget debate - EntornoInteligente

Entornointeligente.com / Jamaica Observer / The 2018/19 budget debate which ended last week saw a number of good presentations that have given us encouragement that our legislators can show maturity in this exercise going forward. Although the figures indicate that all is not well on the economic front, no one can dispute the fact that some progress has been made.

The main failing of the economy continues to be the very low rate of economic growth. This cannot be blamed entirely on the present Government because the causes and impediments have their origins from as far back as the 1970s when ideology trumped focus on the economy.

In recent years, successive Jamaica Labour Party and People’s National Party governments implemented one of the most draconian economic reform programmes ever imposed on any country by the International Monetary Fund.

Today the country is starting to see the benefits of resolute application to that programme.

The tone of the budget debate was one of friendly political rivalry, although who is best described by the moniker “Macaroni” remains unresolved. This is a welcomed difference from the hostile atmosphere of years gone by. Indeed, Mr Shaw was comfortable and in control of his subject matter, while his Opposition counterpart, Mr Mark Golding, made what can be described as a politically strong debut.

The debate was substantive because Prime Minister Holness, at last relaxed in his post, was clear and confident, while Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, outside of his misguided urging of the Government to pay the additional wage demands of the public sector workers above the 16 per cent offer, generally resisted appearing to simply criticise everything espoused or implemented by the Government.

Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw’s declaration of ‘No new taxes’ certainly created an amicable atmosphere in Gordon House.

Some credit must be given to the dedicated civil servants in the Ministry of Finance, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) who worked hard over many months to put together the budget from the numerous submissions from government ministries and agencies, and to identify sources of revenue, borrowing and taxation.

The magnitude and difficulty of the budget process should not be underestimated, especially for the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for the economic data, formulation, recalibration, and implementation of macroeconomic policy. In this regard, the Government and Jamaica are well served by the outstanding work of Mr Brian Wynter, governor of the Bank of Jamaica, and Dr Wayne Henry, director general of the PIOJ.

As the country now moves to the sectoral debate, we hope that the tone and manner set in the budget debate will continue.

JAMAICA: A good budget debate

Con Información de Jamaica Observer

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