Finance Minister Stresses Focus on Economic Independence

Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has reiterated the Government’s focus on achieving economic independence, expanding opportunities for all citizens, and enhancing safeguards for the society’s vulnerable.

He was speaking at Sterling Asset Management Limited’s annual investor briefing at the Spanish Court Hotel, New Kingston, on June 7.

Dr. Clarke noted that economic independence means more options regarding spending priorities, with emphasis on areas that have a higher growth-inducing impact.

“I would like to see greater attention on things like agricultural resilience, as we pursue economic independence,” he said.

“I want to make sure that we allocate more (in areas) that can increase productivity,” he added, citing, for example, the training of personnel for the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

“The BPO industry is competitive… and we want to make it a more productive space. So, to the extent that the BPO operator can save that cost when they recruit … that lowers operational costs for them. So expenditure that can bring about that training (will assist in repositioning) Jamaica (to) become a more productive destination,” he contended.

Dr. Clarke said other priorities are to strengthen the macro-fiscal capacity of the Ministry and its institutions and “ensure that we have methods of deepening our fiscal rules and strengthening the fiscal responsibility framework with the emergence of a fiscal council”.

Establishment of the fiscal council, which has been approved by Cabinet, is consistent with plans by the Government to secure Jamaica’s gains under successive economic reform programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and build on the success of domestic partnership initiatives.Fiscal councils are permanent, independent, non-partisan institutions that are created by legislation and staffed by competent, experienced and technically proficient persons who help to promote economically sustainable fiscal policies across political cycles.

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