KINGSTON — Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has emphasised that the effects of the global economic crisis on the local economy should not be downplayed.
Closing the 2011/12 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on May 11, Mr. Shaw pointed out that, “countries in the region that enjoyed economic growth at an average of upwards of five per cent saw economic decline as a result of the global recession."
“Oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago, that averaged over eight per cent annual growth in the decade prior to the global crisis (1997 to 2006), and which is even now benefiting from current high oil prices, recorded a decline in 2009 of -3.5 per cent and again in 2010 of -0.6 per cent,” the Minister added.
Mr. Shaw noted that data has shown that poverty increased to 16.5 per cent, up from 12.5 per cent in 2008, and that this was due to global recession as outlined by the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions.
Generally, the survey found that 89.1 per cent of the country was aware of the impact of the global recession on the country’s economy. “Poverty is a blight upon a people, and a scourge that must be drastically reduced, if not eliminated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw pointed out that the Net International Reserves (NIR) is at its highest level ever, recording US$2.6 billion at the end of April 2011, noting that the gross reserves are similarly at their highest level ever.
“For the first time in a long time the following condition prevails: the NIR is at a record level, inflation is under control, Bank of Jamaica interest rates are at their lowest levels ever, and the exchange rate is stable and revaluing, and the economy is beginning to grow. We are now out of the recession,” he stated.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter