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World Bank to examine Carib debt overhang, slow growth, energy rates

WASHINGTON DC, Oct 14, 2014 - President of the World Bank Group, Jim Young Kim is to meet with Caribbean Ministers of Finance and Governors of the region’s central banks at a summit early next year to examine how the bank can assist with formalizing projects related to debt overhang, slow growth, climate change and high electricity rates.

Phillips sees possible three per cent growth for 2015/16.

Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips says prospects are on the rise for economic growth of more than three per cent or more in 2015-2016, up from the projected 1.5 to two per cent for the period. He said that during the recent two-day retreat, Cabinet nailed down firm plans on how to motivate and sustain the growth momentum. "The PIOJ indicated that over the next fiscal year there was significant potential for growth even beyond that which has been projected in the extended fund facility programme with the International Monetary Fund," said Phillips. Noting that the existing growth target currently lingers between 1.5 and two per cent per annum over the next three years, the Finance Minister is projecting a jump based on the identified projects, particularly in tourism and renewable energy. "In this regard, Cabinet mandated a sub-committee, focusing on growth, to identify and remove impediments to growth projects and to identify general measures to be undertaken to raise the levels of growth," he said. Phillips also disclosed that a technical secretariat for this committee is to be established and housed within the Development Bank of Jamaica. "Steps are already under way to secure appropriate staffing and to have a technical subcommittee paralleling the work of the ministerial Cabinet subcommittee that has been established," he disclosed. In relation to the inflation rate, Wynter said he expected a reversal of the slight hike in interest rate caused by drought-inflicted price increases in basic food items. Wynter said data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, this week, shows that the inflation rate stood at 9.8 per cent for August 2014, compared to 9.5 per cent at the same point last year. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has been directed by Cabinet to implement fresh projects to stimulate the Government's growth agenda in the upcoming fiscal season, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips has revealed. Phillips listed additional growth-stimulating projects identified by the PIOJ in areas of integrated resort development; port and infrastructure, as well as information communication technology. At the same time, Central Bank Governor Brian Wynter and his team have projected that the despite the minor setbacks caused by the protracted drought in 2014, a single-digit inflation target remains reachable for the 2014-2015 financial year. Phillips pointed to anticipated developments in the medium- and small-enterprise sector and provisions for additional venture-capital funds that are being established. These, he suggested, should engender even greater potential in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Dr Phillips said, too, that the anticipated reduction in electricity costs, which is anticipated to get underway before 2017, will further complement the country's capacity for growth, particularly in relation to benefits to the manufacturing sector. He noted that the work of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET), which presented an update on Jamaica's baseload capacity to Cabinet during the retreat, was therefore vital to the process.
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