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Dr.Dudd
01-28-2007, 03:40 PM
We are going in the right direction - Davies

By Dennise Williams
Sunday, January 28, 2007



Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Omar Davies has declared 2006 as one of the best years of his 14-year career as head of the country's finances and proclaimed that the country is "going in the right direction" economically.

"When I take a look at the macroeconomic environment of 2006, I say that we are at an exciting point in Jamaica's history," Davies declared at the Mayberry Investment Seminar on Wednesday, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. "The macroeconomic indicators are pointing in the right direction. Inflation is the lowest level in over 30 years. We didn't expect it to come out so well - but give thanks."


CEO of Mayberry Investments Limited, Gary Peart (left), shares a laugh with Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Omar Davies (centre), and chairman of Mayberry, Chris Berry. The occasion was Mayberry's monthly Investor Seminar held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

The finance minister added that growth in the economy is expected to be at 3 per cent and unemployment level is at a single digit of 8.9 per cent "for the first time in decades".
Davies stated that an indication of the growth in the economy, especially in employment, are the major construction developments on the North Coast.

"I visited one of the hotel sites and saw 4,000 persons on the work site. I have never seen so many persons employed in one place at one time," said Davies. "This is a real live demonstration of the growth the economy is seeing."

Corresponding to the growth in the economy, Davies noted that "poverty is declining consistently. And the infrastructure development is unprecedented and will provide the basis for further widespread growth and development."

He added that "the rate of inflation was 5.8 per cent for the 2006 calendar year and this is the lowest rate in 30 years. Visitor arrivals increased by 15.7 per cent over 2005. The number of cruise ship passengers was 18.4 per cent higher in 2006. The foreign reserves remain at adequate levels fuelled by private capital inflows, tourism receipts and remittances."

The finance minister also pointed to several large projects undertaken recently, the completion of the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 and the continued work on the North Coast Highway as major developments.
"We also have large scale hotel investments that shows that our economic prospects remain positive. In fact, for 2007 and beyond the buoyancy (is expected) to continue in the sectors of tourism, mining and construction," noted Davies.

Looking at his successes with the fiscal numbers, Davies highlighted that "the April to November fiscal operations are within the budgeted level. Expenditure has been contained even though revenue and grants were slightly below budget reflecting the lower-than-projected growth in nominal income."

Davies informed the audience that while the economy was on the right track, the tax administration strategies have also been enhanced, highlighting that the government has turned to third parties and the Internet to assist in the tax collection process.

"We have implemented several legislative amendments to enhance the collection process and we have allowed for collection of taxes through third parties for greater ease and access for taxpayers," he said. "We have improved our technological solutions to include electronic filing and electronic payment as well as to allow for online taxpayer account enquiry."