COVID-19 economic recovery task force established

Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Prime Minister 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), Holness said the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force will be chaired by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, who is one of several Cabinet members on the team.

The others are Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw; Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett; Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams; and Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz.    

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke is a part of the task force

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.

Hotelier Adam Stewart

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,” Holness said.

Minister Daryl Vaz

As such, 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.