Tue | Jan 31, 2023

COVID-19 would have wrecked economy pre-2000s – Holness

Published:Wednesday | November 30, 2022 | 12:08 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses the audience at the Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference on day one at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses the audience at the Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference on day one at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Tuesday.

WESTERN BUREAU:

PRIME MINISTER (PM) Andrew Holness is asserting that if the COVID-19 outbreak had struck in earlier decades before Jamaica’s current fiscal policies and economic diversification had been implemented, the nation would not have recovered as well as it has from the pandemic’s effects.

Holness made the declaration during his keynote address at Tuesday’s opening day of the Invest Jamaica 2022 Business Conference, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.

The two-day conference, themed ‘Jamaica – The Nearshore Delivery Hub of the Caribbean’, has representatives from 61 countries in attendance.

“If the pandemic had struck in 1970, or in 1980, or in the early 2000s, the Jamaican economy would not be able to stand it. The economy would not be able to respond with the care package that we gave the people of Jamaica, supporting the most vulnerable, and meeting the cost of all measures we had to put in place, and it would have driven us further in debt,” Holness told the conference.

“The proof of the effectiveness of the strategy lies in the speed of the recovery of the Jamaican economy. We managed the pandemic successfully, and we made sure that businesses could recover quickly,” Holness added.

The PM pointed to the tourism industry as an example of a resilient sectors that bounced back from the economic devastation of COVID-19.

“Our tourism is booming, and I would say to you that if you are in the tourism sector, or you are invested in tourism, then when you go to your bed tonight and wake up in the morning, Jamaica should be in the top five destinations for places to invest in tourism,” said Holness.

The Government projects growth of 3.5 per cent during this fiscal year and expects that the economy should return to pre-COVID levels by fiscal year 2024.

Jamaica is one of several Caribbean countries, along with Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, Guyana, and The Bahamas, which are expected to experience growth this year and then decrease the following year.

Jamaica is expected to experience 3.2 per cent growth this year, but is then forecast to fall to two per cent afterward.

In the meantime, Tariq Alli, the Inter-American Development Bank’s Country Department Caribbean Group and Country Representative to Jamaica, praised the country’s economic fortitude despite the rigours of COVID-19.

“Companies doing business here are thriving because Jamaica continues to focus on implementing macroeconomic measures that have allowed this country to advance even in the face of COVID-19, with a view of coming from this health crisis in an even better position,” said Alli.

“Jamaica has proven to be resilient.”

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com