Most Jamaicans not seeing any prosperity, says Paulwell Loop Jamaica

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Opposition Spokesman on Energy and Climate Change, Phillip Paulwell has stated that despite lower levels of unemployment in the country, the vast majority of Jamaicans are not seeing the prosperity being touted by the Government.

“In fact, you infuriate people when you talk so glibly of prosperity, because there can be no feeling of prosperity if the economy is not growing,” he said in a swipe at the Government’s tag line.

Paulwell made the remark on Tuesday during his contribution to the 2024/25 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

“It has been a bitter experience for so many of our people. Our economy has not grown appreciably over many years. This lack of growth or slow growth has been linked to the poor performance of our energy sector over many decades,” Paulwell said.

He argued that “energy is so crucial to all aspects of our lives and affects in a profound way the high cost of production and the resulting lack of growth”.

The former energy minister accused the government of reversing what he described as “some glowing and significant achievements in energy between 2012 and 2016”. He was the minister of energy in the Portia Simpson Miller-led People’s National Party (PNP) Administration during this period.

Paulwell pointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Energy Architecture Performance Index, which recorded Jamaica’s “dramatic improvement” between 2013 and 2017, moving 74 places from 166 to 92. He noted that that improvement slowed appreciably to six places during the 2017 to 2021 period.

“When I was minister, we had determined that a price of 15 US cents per kWh was the price that we should aspire to achieve if our economy were to become competitive and grow.

“Today, this government has no notion of a benchmark price that it wants to attain. I don’t even believe that this government is aware of the price of electric energy at this time. If they did, then there would be a greater sense of urgency to correct the situation,” insisted Paulwell.

He told the House that when the PNP left government in 2016, the price per kWh of electricity was about 23 US cents.

“Today, that price has escalated to about 40 US cents per kWh. No wonder growth in the economy continues to elude us and our people continue to suffer.

“And there are clear reasons why we are not achieving any success in this important and critical area of energy; the Ministry of Energy has been completely unstable and unfocused, and nothing much has even been attempted since 2016. This lack of a sense of urgency has been typical of this government in its approach to energy to the disadvantage of our society,” Paulwell added.