Friday 21 February, 2020

Phillips urges Gov’t to closely monitor global financial developments

Dr Peter Phillips

Dr Peter Phillips

Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, has said the Jamaican Government needs to closely monitor developments in the global financial markets following news this week that there could be another global recession on the horizon.

Phillips, a former Minister of Finance in the last People’s National Party (PNP) Government, charged that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration did not properly handle the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

“Many... are fearing that a recession may be taking place, and we are seeing a slowing down in some critical sectors of the world economy; in bauxite/alumina, for example, in the aluminium sector, prices are already plunging and have plunged, and there is always the risk that they may tighten further,” Phillips said.

“One of the things that we need to do is to carefully manage our situation, because in 2008 when the world economy really suffered from a Great Recession, the way we handled it in Jamaica then, made things worse," Phillips added.

The PNP President, who was addressing a delegates' meeting in the South St Catherine constituency of party Chairman, Fitz Jackson, Thursday evening, said the current developments in the local bauxite sector are particularly worrying.

“The fact they we have given up so much of our bauxite and alumina revenues has not put the country well. The Government needs to prepare for the possible effects (of a global recession), particularly in the bauxite sector, and, indeed, much more effort should have been made to deal with the educational challenge, because effective human resources are what will enable us to withstand the pressures which will come from time to time,” Phillips further stated.

The downturn in the global bauxite/alumina market is threatening the viability of operations at the JISCO-owned Alpart bauxite plant in St Elizabeth. The Mining Ministry has revealed that it has been in dialogue with the owners of the plant on the available options. JISCO has been forced to cut back production in the face of falling global alumina prices.

Fears of an impending global recession were heightened on Wednesday amid the ongoing trade war between China and the United States. Both countries have, over the last several months, been imposing increasingly higher tariffs on each other’s imports, to the detriment of consumers.

There was a sell-off of shares on global stock markets earlier this week, before they rebounded on Friday.

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