Thursday 27 February, 2020

Sustainable development bearing fruits for Jamaica, says Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Jamaica's investment in infrastructure is paying a dividend, as according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, it has increased the Government's earning and given fiscal space for the country to continue along the same path.

Speaking at the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum (CARIF) at AC Marriott Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday morning, Holness said the Government is looking to step into the next phase of infrastructure development, which he said will be called the Greater Infrastructure Development Project.

According to Holness, the fiscal prudence of the Government over recent years, and the use of two key loans for infrastructure development, will enable the island to maintain a sustainable development path and bring more economic benefits.

Holness said that the infrastructure development is not only in buildings, for commercial, residential and industrial purposes, but also roads, water, sewage, electricity and telecommunications networks, which have been built out for greater connectivity.

He said: "There is a very wide infrastructure agenda for Jamaica and we have been able to enter this phase of growth because we have managed to bring some order and sanity to our fiscal affairs.

"I wouldn't say that we have solved the fiscal issues of Jamaica, but we are close to doing it. So I guess the lesson from Jamaica for everywhere else, is that if you are going to engage in serious infrastructural expansion, you need to resolve the fiscal management of the economy, otherwise, you will have to finance it through debt," he added.

Holness praised the use of funds borrowed from China for the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Development Programme (JDIP) and the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which funded road and other infrastructure developments.

He argued that it was a wise spend to tie the borrowing to infrastructure instead of general budget support, which he said enabled the island to expand its revenue-earning capacity, as with better roads, buildings and greater connectivity, it led to more commerce that meant more revenue for the Government and a better fiscal position.

According to Holness, the Government will dedicate a large portion from the fiscal space that was created back into infrastructure development, hence the Greater Infrastructure Development Project.

This, Holness said, will include the building out of more road networks, with the aim of enabling travel from one end of the island to the next in only one and a half hour. He said it will also involve extending current highways, building bypasses and widening existing roadways.

"So effectively what will happen, you will have ease of travel in Jamaica. The objective is to cut the travel time to anywhere on the island, to less than an hour and a half. Now imagine what that will do?” said Holness.

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