Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says Jamaica’s macroeconomic achievements, particularly during 2019, have enabled the country to address the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
“Our debt is decreasing, more people have jobs, inflation is tamed, our capital markets are strong, interest rates are the lowest in our history, we have increased the ability to withstand external shocks, our international credit rating continues to improve, we have had sustained economic growth, [and] we completed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme with flying colours,” Mr. Holness outlined.
The Prime Minister said these significant economic milestones [are] all geared towards “anchoring our prosperity”.
He was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday (March 19), under the theme ‘Towards a Decade of Growth to Anchor Our Peace, Prosperity and Resilience’.
Mr. Holness said the gains have created a strong foundation for macroeconomic stability “on which we will launch Jamaica’s new decade of growth”.
Additionally, he said they have enabled the Administration to present a budget “that is unprecedented in the history of Jamaica”.
[It is] a budget which gives a significant debt reduction, a significant tax cut, and on top of that, proactively provides for a contingency fund of $10 billion for the possible effects of COVID-19,” he noted.
While acknowledging that the virus “will have an impact [on Jamaica],” the Prime Minister remains optimistic that “we will recover”.
“This Administration is committed to ensuring we take the most prudent, creative and effective decisions in the interest of the Jamaican people,” he pointed out.
Against this background, he said the Government has made and will continue to make “unprecedented investments” to improve Jamaica’s health and sociocultural infrastructure, built and natural environment, road networks, water and sewerage, national security apparatus, education and training, judicial system, and investment climate.
“We have not reached everybody yet… but we are working. This is our Decade of Growth in which we will strengthen our resilience and bring peace and prosperity to all,” Mr. Holness said.
He added that while the Administration is proud of the record of macroeconomic stability achieved, “we must recognise that [this] is not an end in itself but a means to an end – [bettering] the lives of the Jamaican people”.
“We must never forget that our macroeconomic gains have been achieved through great sacrifice by the Jamaican people. We must preserve and build on these hard-won gains and not squander them,” the Prime Minister emphasised.