Wigton sale to help reduce debt to 60% of GDP by 2025/26

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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Minister of Science, Energy and Technology (SET), Fayval Williams says that the expected $5.5 billion from the current Wigton Windfarm IPO will be used to help reduce the national debt.

Williams told the House of Representatives last week that the funds will assist the government towards meeting the goal of reducing the approximately $2 trillion debt to 60 per cent of GDP by 2025.

Opposition spokesman on mining and energy, Phillip Paulwell, had expressed the view that the funds should be used to assist the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) in sponsoring research and development studies on renewables.

However, Williams confirmed that the funds would go towards the debt to GDP target. But, she added that she expects to update the Parliament on the development after the transaction closes by May 1.

“When we will have more complete information on the transaction,” she added.

The minister said that renewable energy features strongly in the government's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity generation,

“Our National Energy Policy 2030, when revised, will have renewables as 50 per cent of our energy needs by 2030,” she noted.

She said that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is a manifestation of Jamaica's national energy policy 2009-2030, which examined the energy situation the country faced and proposed a range of options and strategies which the government had to commit to pursue over the short, medium and longer term.

She also stated that these options range from consciously incorporating energy conservation measures in Jamaicans daily lives, to modernising the nation's energy infrastructure.

“The policy balances issues relating to energy demand and supply, energy security, safety, conservation and development of renewable energy technologies. Through this policy, Jamaica can help to lead the Caribbean and other small island developing states in aggressively changing dependence on petroleum,” she added.

The minister acknowledged the contribution of managing director of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Milverton Reynolds and his team for “the tremendous work they have done to get us to this point”. She also paid tribute to the input of the management and staff of the wind farm.

Jamaica's public debt fell below 100 percent of GDP in 2018/19, and is expected to decline below 60 per cent by 2025/26.

According to the World Bank, the Jamaican economy grew a year-on-year two per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, bolstered by growth in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, and quarrying activities. Preliminary estimates for the calendar year 2018 showed a 1.9 per cent growth in the Jamaican economy.

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