‘IMF pact not our salvation’

‘Butch’ Stewart urges J’cans to look out for each other as never before

(Jamaica Observer) Gordon  ‘Butch’ Stewart on Wednesday urged Jamaicans to hold each other’s hands and face the challenges of 2013 in an exemplary spirit of unity and teamwork.

Stewart, the Caribbean’s leading hotelier, said co-ordinated teams win big games, and if Jamaicans work as a team, by “helping each other, protecting each other, and supporting each other, as never before, there is very little that we cannot achieve together”.

The Sandals Resorts and Jamaica Observer chairman also called on Jamaicans to give the one-year-old Portia Simpson Miller Government a chance to prove that it was worthy of the overwhelming support it received at the polls in December 2011.

In an interview in which he held out much hope for Jamaicans, despite the many challenges they would also face, Stewart cautioned against the view that Jamaica’s salvation rested in an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Jamaica has been without an IMF agreement for almost 20 months and the finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, has not realised his wish to ink a deal with the fund by the end of last December.

An IMF deal is necessary to shore up Jamaica’s balance of payments position and provide access to other multilateral sources of funds that usually take their cue from the fund’s vaunted seal of approval.

“Every one is looking forward to an agreement with the IMF. This will be very useful. But an IMF agreement is not Jamaica’s salvation,” Stewart said.

“At the end of the day it is we who will have to dig ourselves out of our problems. We will have to create the capital for investment in our country’s development,” he said.

“We have to see the IMF agreement as the start of an investment that we are going to use to build on and turn it into a potential lever of development,” the business mogul added.

Stewart reinforced his familiar theme that it was the strength of the multitude of businesses that would make the difference to Jamaica’s progress and prosperity, urging the Government to create the environment for businesses to flourish and create jobs.

He said that in these difficult times, the Government had a tremendous opportunity to prove its worth by providing the inspirational leadership that Jamaica needed to move forward.

“Now is not the time for factionalism. We all need to inspire each other. It is vital that we look out for each other. We had an exceptional year last year, in which the world saw Jamaican brilliance on show at the London Olympics. This is who we are. Let us bring all the creativity at our command to take advantage of this positive publicity and the feel-good factor.

“After 50 years as a fledgling nation, Jamaica is now a mature country. We are no longer practising to become a nation. Those days are behind us. The days ahead are ones in which we have to fight for each other, protect each other, support each other.

“We are playing in the major leagues now. We cannot afford to contemplate failure. We must be smart, move fast, and make sensible decisions that will for the good of all of us.”

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