Fri | Jun 2, 2023

Clarke hits back at debt repayment criticism

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2023 | 4:23 PM
Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke speaking in the House of Representatives on March 21. - Kenyon Hemans photo.

Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke this afternoon rebuffed criticisms from opposition leader Mark Golding that the Government is seeking to pay down Jamaica's debt faster than needed.

In his contribution to the Budget Debate last week, Golding accused the Government of not doing enough to provide support to Jamaicans suffering from the high cost of living.

The Government is projecting to bring public debt to below 60% of GDP by March 2027, which is a year earlier than the target in the fiscal rules.

Golding argued that those funds could be better channelled to provide relief to Jamaicans.

“How is the Government deploying the massive amounts of additional taxes it is taking from the people? Instead of strengthening the safety net and investing heavily in the developmental needs of the people, they are intent on reducing the public debt at any even faster rate than is required by the fiscal rules.

“It sounds good, but is it wise and prudent? Why accelerate and bring forward the repayment of debt when the society is under so much pressure,” argued Golding.

Clarke, in closing the debate today, hit back at Golding.

“When I hear the opposition leader talking about paying down debt too fast, he doesn't get it…he has no ambition for Jamaica,” Clarke charged as he explained why Jamaica is aggressively seeking to lower public debt.

Clarke said the fact that Jamaica is projected to reach the 60% debt-to-GDP target a year earlier, in March 2027, is “a good development”.

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