Speaking at a People’s National Party (PNP) Divisional Conference in Myersville, St. Elizabeth on Sunday, Dr. Phillips said the major legacy of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)-led Government so far has been a massive increase in the cost of living.
This, he said, has seen sharp increases in the prices of food, petrol, electricity and other commodities and services, accompanied by a large tax package of $14 billion.
“After five months at the helm, the JLP government has not achieved anything tangible, not even to deliver on the promises that put them there,” he said. He pointed out that the promised prosperity, which the JLP suggested would have materialised on April 1, has not been achieved.
“For any people to achieve prosperity, it is going to take years of hard effort, responsibility on the part of government, and responsibility on the part of people, to educate a population and remove barriers to education and to reduce the debt that is like a milestone on the back of the country,” the Opposition Finance Spokesman emphasized.
This approach, he said, is the reality of economics. In this regard, Dr. Phillips noted that the Government has been overlooking some serious issues that need to be addressed. These include the debt which now stands at 125% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He has also questioned the status of the Economic Reform Agreement, which stipulates that the country’s debt be brought down to 60% of GDP by 2026.
Instead, he pointed out, the debt, which was reduced under the PNP Government, has been increasing as Jamaica will now have to borrow heavily to finance the budget. He said other pressing economic issues not being addressed by the JLP Government include the public sector wage negotiations for April 2017-2019, and a new agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I am not opposed to anyone getting more money, but I'm opposed to deceit in governance,” Dr. Phillips said noting that the Government has refused to tell the country that the small increase in take home pay for some income tax payers, comes at a price of greater borrowing by the Government and a general decline in the country’s economic situation.
“I am opposed to misrepresentation about the facts of economic life,” Dr. Phillips said. Despite the failures of the Government, he noted that the JLP has employed a public relations machinery to push the falsehood that all is well with the economy and the country.
He questioned the status of other promises made by the JLP such as the doubling of the minimum wage, which he suggested has been conveniently forgotten.
The opposition finance spokesman is calling on Jamaicans to take the local government elections as a serious Emancipation exercise. He said that call goes beyond the Myersville Division, to Jamaicans across the country. “It’s time now for the government to stop playing politics and to begin to get on with the serious issues of governance and governing the country," Dr. Phillips urged.