Every Jamaican will be gainfully employed- Holness Says
While he is not overly enthused with the Planning Institute of Jamaica's (PIOJ) growth projection figure of 1.9 per cent, Prime Minister Andrew Holness nonetheless believes that if the current upward trajectory is maintained, all Jamaicans will be gainfully employed in the near future. "If the economy continues on the path that is now set, Jamaica will be in a position where it will have a job for every single citizen who is able-bodied and can work," said Holness, while addressing a town hall meeting in Montego Bay last Thursday.
"That may sound inconceivable to many of us because 70 per cent of the population never experienced a time when Jamaica was booming," continued Holness. "There was a time when Jamaica was booming in the '50s and in the '60s. We had a growth rate at one point in excess of 10 per cent, can you imagine that? We had a growth rate for more than five per cent for most of those years in the decade and as high as 13 per cent." Holness said he is not pleased with the PIOJ's projection, noting that while the figure was not as disastrous, it was not something that he is excited about.
"I am not happy with this, but it is not bad news. It could be better news, but it continues to show that the economy is moving in the right direction," said Holness. "In the last quarter, we had real GDP [gross domestic product] growth of 2.2 per cent as reported by STATIN (Statistical Institute of Jamaica). So who knows, maybe we will be above, but such it is. The important thing is not the point, it is the trajectory, the point-to-point movement; and what is clear is that the Jamaican economy is moving in the right direction as measured by growth."
Longstanding negative growth
"Unfortunately, for the last half a century, we have existed in a period where we have either declined or experienced very weak growth," continued Holness. "So the belief that the country can reach full employment is not grounded in the minds of the citizens, but I give you the undertaking that Jamaica will reach full employment."
The prime minister said there are countries in this region that have full employment. According to him, Trinidad has full employment, to the point where they can now import labour. He said that in time, Jamaica should be able to do the same.