Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has praised Grenada’s fiscal discipline as it implements a  homegrown structural adjustment programme with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Holness, addressing the convention of the ruling New National Party (NNP) on Sunday, said that reducing the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio from 108 to 72 per cent in three years is a feat that has to be commended.

“From what I have read, and what has been reported, the fiscal discipline of your government has been exemplary.

“When we see that you are getting five per cent average growth – seven per cent on the high level – and this year it is reported that you will get 4.2 per cent, your economy is doing well and you should be proud,” Holness told thousands of NNP supporters.

The programme, which was backed by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECC), has just ended with the international lending agency, complementing the government on turning the economy around and recognizing growth of 3.9 per cent with a projection of 2.5 in 2017.

The Jamaican leader said it is never easy for any country to go through a structural reform of its economy but encouraged Grenada not to give up on those reforms.

“For our economies, small island developing states, to survive in this changing world, our economies have to be more  efficient, they have to be more robust, they have to be more diverse, they have to be more resilient, and they have to be growing and growing and growing.”

He said the economic growth is “not just for the big people, they have to grow for the little people as well because economic growth starts at the root and the benefit of economic growth is that people must get jobs.”

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell agreed that the country’s current economic success did not come on a whim, calling the lowering of the debt to GDP ratio a miracle.

“The growth that we have, did not come about just so. The payment of unpaid claims did not come about just so. It was the sacrifices of a lot of people; and the leadership of the team of the New National Party – your cabinet that you gave us — sisters and brothers.”

“And therefore sisters and brothers to move from 108 per cent Debt to GDP ratio to 72 per cent was miraculous,” Mitchell told party supporters gathered at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School grounds.

The Grenadian leader, who has been in the political realm for more than 32 years, said the challenge is to create jobs and create hope for the young people.

“We cannot do everything possible but we can do a lot and all of us must join hands together to help provide more hope to the young people of our country,” Mitchell said, while calling on local entrepreneurs to increase their levels of investment in the country.

“We are proud of what we are doing in our country but we wouldn’t stop with this; the march is on.”

Mitchell said the vision for the future is to “promote an economic policy that will employ and empower all our people, by expanding opportunities to all sectors of our society”.

At the convention, which was attended by other regional politicians, including Godwin Friday, political leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the deputy political leader of the ruling Team Unity of St Kitts and Nevis Jonel Powell, the NNP voted unanimously to retain its executive.

Mitchell remains political leader with his senior government minister, Gregory Bowen, as chairman. Elvin Nimrod has been re-elected as deputy political leader.

[Source: The Jamaica Observer]