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High Cost of Energy Obstructs Economic Growth in Caribbean, Jamaican Official Says

dsc_07501KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says the high cost of energy is the single greatest deterrent to economic growth in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

Addressing an International Monetary Fund-sponsored 2014 High-Level Caribbean Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Center, in Rose Hall, St. James, on Thursday, Simpson Miller emphasized that the country’s high energy tab continues to adversely affect local economic activities.

“Quite simply, given the high cost of energy, people have less money to spend, and locally produced goods and services suffer,” she said.

The prime minister pointed out that the cost of energy represents more than one-third of Jamaica’s total import bill, and more than 125 percent of the country’s total merchandise exports.

This, she states, adversely affects the competitiveness of the economy, particularly in mining and manufacturing, the two sectors with the highest usage levels.

“To put in context the importance of this sector to our economy, in respect of the mining sector, there has been the closure of 2 million tons of annual alumina capacity since 2009. This is equivalent to US$700 million of gross annual export earnings. This closure is directly attributable to the high cost of energy to the sector,” the prime minister said.


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