Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Government will be focused on economic recovery as the country continues to deal with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Jamaica faces, like much of the world, the greatest crisis of our lifetime, and so the first priority of the Government is going to be to ensure that we can absorb the effects of the crisis and bounce back stronger, bounce back through economic recovery… to an expansion of economic activity once more,” he said.
Dr. Clarke was speaking in an interview with JIS News, after taking the oath of office, during a ceremony at King’s House on Monday (September 7).
He was among four Ministers sworn in by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen. The others are Minister of National Security and Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
Dr. Clarke told JIS News that the Government will be seeking to maintain macroeconomic stability and strengthen institutions that safeguard stability.
He also mentioned that the Bank of Jamaica (Amendment) Act will be tabled when Parliament resumes.
“That legislation came through a Joint Select Committee. One of the first orders of business is going to be the tabling of that legislation and to have it go through its stages in Parliament. We are going to bring a Bill to put in place a Fiscal Council to strengthen Jamaica’s fiscal responsibility framework, and we are going to pursue the strengthening of our disaster risk framework, to provide fiscal protection in the event of natural disaster,” he noted.
“We will be further capitalising our Contingencies Fund over the course of this term and with the help and assistance of our multilateral partners, such as the World Bank, procuring catastrophe insurance in the event of a natural disaster,” he added.
The Finance and the Public Service Minister said that the Government will continue to provide financial support to individuals and firms affected by the pandemic.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, at his swearing-in ceremony held shortly before that of the four Cabinet Ministers, announced plans by his Administration to provide more than $14 billion in support for business, tourism interests, and farmers over the next three years.
Funding provisions will include $10 billion in loan guarantees to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); $3 billion in agri-care support for farmers and fisherfolk; $1.2 billion in grants to small and medium-sized tourism operators, to be deployed through the EXIM Bank; and $500 million in grants for micro and small community-based businesses.