KINGSTON — Andrew Holness yesterday squarely blamed the People’s National Party government for the high cost of living being experienced by Jamaicans, saying that every household in Jamaica has become poorer since late 2011 when his Jamaica Labour Party lost power.
According to Holness, the opposition leader, the current Government took office without a plan or a proper understanding of the nature of the economic challenges.
“Consequently, we see a Government staying true to its mandate to tun up di ting… the cost of everything has tun up,” he said.
“This is the reality that the people are facing, and no matter how they try to gloss over the picture with promises and goodies, the reality is that people have been hurting and the economic condition is getting worse,” the opposition leader said as he made his contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate at Gordon House.
Pointing out that it was his duty to set the record straight as to why Jamaica is in the position it is in today, Holness took into the Chamber two baskets of basic food items, one loaded with what he said were items affordable in 2011 and the other with goods bought in 2013 for the same amount of money.
“I thought it a useful exercise to compare the basket of goods a fixed weekly minimum wage earner could actually purchase with $3,000 in 2011 against the basket of goods that could be purchased today with the same $3,000,” he told the House of Representatives.
“This did not happen because there was the worst global recession in 80 years; it did not happen because there was a series of local natural disasters… this present hardship being visited upon the people is the work of the present Government,” Holness insisted.
He said that because of the delay in arriving at an agreement with the International Monetary, Fund since January 2012, the country’s macroeconomic variables worsened; unemployment rose to its highest in more than a decade; the exchange rate hovers around the J$100 – US$1 mark; the tax rate has increased; growth has declined; the economy is now back in recession; absolute debt has increased and the debt-to-GDP ratio has increased. He added that, even more importantly, confidence in the economy is at an all-time low.
“We want the people listening today to understand that your current hardships are the Government’s fault. I am talking to the teachers, nurses, doctors, policemen and women, civil servants, secretaries, store clerks, mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, masons, household helpers, day workers, food vendors, construction workers, farmers, taxi drivers, and yes, loadermen,” Holness stated. (Observer)