Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Shaw touts Seaga's handling of the economy

Audley Shaw

Audley Shaw

Edward Seaga, the late former Prime Minister of Jamaica who was laid to rest earlier this week, is being hailed for his stewardship of the country's financial affairs during his time in government.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw touted Seaga's performance while speaking at the launch of Consolidated Bakeries Jamaica Limited’s healthy F1RST brand of products last Thursday.

Shaw specifically highlighted Seaga's tenure as minister of finance over two separate periods - from 1967 to 1972 and from 1980 to 1989 when he was also prime minister in the Jamaica Labour Party administration.

Late former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, opens the 1983 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives. To his right is the late former Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer. (PHOTO: JIS)

He noted that, during Seaga's five-year stint at the helm of the Ministry of Finance, with Hugh Shearer as prime minister, the economy grew by an average of 5.56 per cent per year. In 1970, he noted, the economy grew by 11.9 per cent.

"In 1970, while he (Seaga) was minister of finance, the economy grew by almost 12 per cent in one year. Just so you understand the significance of that, that percentage of 12 per cent represents the total growth under one former minister of finance in another administration for 14 years,” said Shaw in an apparent jab at Dr Omar Davies, who was finance minister from 1993 to 2007 in the People's National Party administration.

According to Shaw, when he reassumed responsibility for the finance portfolio after the JLP won the 1980 general election, Seaga took over a floundering economy and turned it around.

“I want Jamaicans to understand where we are coming from and let it be an inspiration of where we can go, because when Mr Seaga came back after six consecutive years of negative growth in the 1970s, by 1987, under him as prime minister, we grew again by eight per cent in one year.

“This continued within two years into the new administration - in 1989 and 1990, we grew by seven per cent and six per cent respectively, all because of the policies of rebuilding a productive economy in the 1980s,” said Shaw, adding “and then the economy went again slipping and sliding away."

Shaw is himself a former finance minister, serving in that capacity from 2007 to 2011 and again from 2016 to 2018. 

Seaga died on his birthday, May 28 in Miami, Florida. He was buried Sunday at the National Heroes Park, following a state funeral at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: