Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the Government will, during the new fiscal year, give priority to close management of the macro-economy, to enable the country to meet the targets that have been agreed on in the Staff Level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
These include a primary surplus of 7.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and gradual reduction of the debt, so as to achieve an improvement from the current level of over 140 per cent of GDP to 95 per cent by March 2020.
The Governor-General was delivering the 2013/2014 Throne Speech, under the theme, ‘Jamaica: Going for Growth and Development’, to signal the start of the new financial year, at Gordon House, on Thursday, April 4.
[Download the Governor General’s 2013 Throne Speech]
He also stated that the Government will be resolute in ensuring that all the relevant authorities maintain the momentum in regard to Policy Actions already taken and the implementation of new ones, whether in the form of “legislation or executive actions.”
Meanwhile, the Governor-General noted that the government has fulfilled all the prior actions required under the staff level agreement, and now await formal submission of its economic programme to the Board of the IMF, for a decision.
These prior actions include: Reaching an agreement with the major Public Sector Unions representing at least 70 per cent of Government workers on foregoing wage increases for the 2012/2013 financial year and limiting increases for the years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015; and the promulgation of a new policy on Discretionary Waivers.
With the exception of charitable organisations and charitable purposes, waivers will no longer be granted beyond a minimal threshold, except where this is required to satisfy the Government’s contractual or legal obligations.
Also, legislation was passed governing the management of Public Debt; while a Debt Exchange Programme for domestic Government Bonds with a reduction of Public Debt to GDP ratio equivalent to at least 8.5 per cent, was completed.
“The Government appreciates the sacrifices made by all participants and their tangible demonstration of commitment to Jamaica’s future,” the Governor-General said.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter