#KINGSTON, April 28 (JIS): Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced the establishment of a Cabinet-approved multisectoral task force to oversee Jamaica’s economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Speaking at a digital media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Monday (April 27), Mr. Holness said the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force will be chaired by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who is one of several Cabinet members on the team.
The others are Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw; Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett; Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams; and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz.
Other stakeholder members are Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) President and Chief Executive Officer, Professor Gordon Shirley; National Road Operating and Constructing Company Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Anderson; Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Keith Duncan; Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr.; Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) President, Richard Pandohie; and Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) President, Omar Robinson.
Also on the Task Force are MSME Alliance President, Donovan Wignall; Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) President, Helene Davis-White; Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Lenworth Fulton; Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) President, Gloria Henry; former PSOJ Presidents, Joseph M. Matalon, Christopher Zacca, and William Mahfood; gender activist, Nadine Spence; hotelier, Adam Stewart; tourism attractions operator, John Byles; and member of Partnership for Jamaica, Professor Alvin Wint.
Mr. Holness said the Task Force’s establishment follows Cabinet deliberations over the past two weeks on Jamaica’s recovery from the prevailing and projected economic fallout from COVID-19.
This, he noted, has become imperative in light of the fact that “every measure that the Government has put in place to slow down movement [and further spread of the virus]… every curfew measure, every stay-at-home measure… slows down our economy”.
“It means that people will be out of work and out of a job [and] out of income…. frustration grows and then people [will eventually] say [that] the medicine is worse than the illness,” the Prime Minister said.
As such, Mr. Holness emphasised that “we have to figure out how to put in place measures that slow and control the [COVID-19] spread… whilst, at the same time, not doing irreparable damage to our economy”.
Against this background, he praised the private sector for being “an outstanding partner” and “very forthcoming” in wanting to be a part of the national recovery planning and efforts.
This, Mr. Holness noted, through the provision of resources and other forms of support to many Jamaicans, citing their involvement and pivotal role in the national partnership mechanism, Partnership for Jamaica.
“Last week, I had a discussion with the Partnership for Jamaica… and they too have said that they would want to play a critical role. So, the Cabinet has decided to put that mechanism together… now [that] we’re going to be shifting some attention to the economic recovery,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness said, however, that the Task Force’s engagements will have to be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
This, he indicated, “because all the economic activities that we are going to do should be viewed through the prism of the Ministry”.
In his remarks, Dr. Clarke said he is “highly confident” that the Task Force “will be able to put together the contours around Jamaica’s economic recovery”.
Reiterating the health and economic impact and implications associated with COVID-19, he emphasised that “we want to make sure that the decisions that are made… don’t have long-term or permanent economic damage”.
“We want to ensure that we can always recover economically… even [as] we [are instituting measures] to deal with the health effect of the crisis,” the Minister said.
Additionally, Dr. Clarke said “we want to position ourselves to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that a post-covid-19 global economy offers as well as to ensure that we take account of the realities of post-covid-19”.
JIS NEWS BY DOUGLAS McINTOSH