Transport and Mines Minister Audley Shaw said Jamaica must play an important “catch-up” role to regain the potential for economic growth, which was within reach of the nation until 1971, less than a year ago. decade after its independence.
Shaw, a former finance minister, made the statement at Wednesday’s official opening of ATL Automotive Group’s Body Works body shop in Bogue, Montego Bay.
The $500 million facility is expected to employ 20 people trained on the heels of 150 workers who helped build it.
“We have an underperformance problem, and we have a lot of catching up to do. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore came to Jamaica in 1964, two years after we gained independence, because he was inspired by the rate of economic growth that was taking place…and in 1971, in a the Jamaican economy grew by 11% alone in one year,” Shaw said.
LOTS OF CATCH-UP TO DO
“We were looking for excellence, and Singapore’s per capita income was similar to ours in 1964. Today, their per capita income is close to $70,000, but ours is less than $6,000, so we have a lot catching up to do. ,” he added.
In November 2020, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) predicted that the country would grow by 3% by March 2022, with a potential growth of 8% if the tourism sector experiences a significant recovery.
However, BOJ Governor Richard Byles said at the time that Jamaica was unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 economic levels until fiscal year 2022-23.
Following these projections, the International Monetary Fund predicted in November 2021 that further waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Jamaica could further disrupt tourism, trade and capital flows.
Jamaica is currently in the midst of a fourth wave of the pandemic, with 116,084 total positive cases of COVID-19 recorded in the country through Tuesday, January 18.
In the meantime, Shaw praised the ATL Group, including the family of the late business tycoon Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, for their economic efforts and contributions to Jamaica’s growth.
“If we look to Jamaica for a true source of inspiration, a source that can remind us that we can achieve excellence, it is the example of the wonderful Stewart family and the range of investments they have undertaken. over the years,” he said. .
“The ATL group of companies can be seen as a source of inspiration… . Keep climbing to new heights and be an inspiration to all Jamaicans,” Shaw said.