Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, says Jamaica’s economy is moving in the right direction, with positive developments in a number of areas.
Ambassador Marks, who was delivering the keynote address at the 8th annual fundraising gala of HELP Jamaica Medical Mission in New Jersey recently, noted that the unemployment rate has dropped to a 50-year low of 8.4 per cent.
“We now have 1.2 million Jamaicans gainfully employed,” she said.
She said, further, that the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is expected to fall below 100 per cent by the end of the current fiscal year, and the international credit rating has moved from stable to positive, with the net international reserves now totalling US$31.1 billion.
“Our stock market has outperformed the world,” she boasted, adding that the country enjoys the highest consumer confidence in 16 years.
The Ambassador said the Bank of Jamaica is lowering the policy interest rate to two per cent, indicative of the eighth consecutive decrease of 50 basis points since 2016, which means “we are providing an environment whereby access to financing and credit can be leveraged into growth”.
Turning to infrastructure development, Ambassador Marks informed that more than 200 roads, as well as other projects valued at billions of dollars, have been executed over the last two years.
On the tourism front, the Ambassador reported that last year, Jamaica welcomed over 4.3 million visitors, who spent approximately US$3 billion.
“This year, we are projecting to welcome over five million visitors. We currently enjoy one of the highest rates of repeat visitors in the world. Because of your continued visits, our tourist industry now employs over 120,000 persons and contributes over 53 per cent of the foreign exchange inflows,” she said.
Ambassador Marks told the more than 450 guests at the gala that the Government is making significant progress in curbing crime, evidenced in a 21 per cent decrease in homicides.
“Crime is a symptom of underlying socio-economic issues, and the Government of Jamaica is fixing those issues,” she said.
Ambassador Marks said she is “truly inspired” by the generosity of members of the Jamaican diaspora, who continue to support those in need in Jamaica.
“Your contributions, whether through the development of human capital, remittances or charitable donations, have been critical in supporting the achievement of national development goals and objectives. You can be assured that the Government of Jamaica values the contributions of Jamaicans in the diaspora and will continue to seek to enhance our engagement with you to mutual benefit,” she noted.
HELP Jamaica Medical Mission provides free healthcare to needy persons in Jamaica and New Jersey.
Ambassador Marks is the recipient of the organisation’s 2018 Distinguished Presidential Award for her outstanding contribution to Jamaica and the diaspora.