KINGSTON — Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding says Jamaica is now officially out of the recession, with the country registering modest but positive growth in the January to March quarter of this year.
Mr. Golding made the announcement during his presentation in the 2011/2012 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, today.
He said a detailed analysis of the out-turn and the projections for the future will be presented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) at a press briefing scheduled for Wednesday, May 18.
Additionally, the Prime Minister informed that the Government is well on its way to reducing the country’s Debt/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio to 100 per cent or below by 2016.
He pointed out that the Debt/GDP ratio of 128 per cent, which was recorded at the end of March, was well within the ceiling of 139 per cent as set out in the Standby Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The programme calls for it to be reduced to 100 per cent by 2016 and we are already clearly on the right trajectory to achieve that. If we focus our efforts seriously on investment and growth, we will reach that target even sooner,” he stated.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister said the government is significantly concerned about the number of people falling below the poverty line.
He said the increase in the poverty level is directly attributed to the decline in the economy, loss of jobs and the significant drop in remittances in 2009.
Mr. Golding said the impact of these factors has been mitigated by the provision of increased benefits through the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), the allocation for which has been increased from $1.7 billion in 2007 to over $4.0 billion this year.
“Even after allowing for inflation, this represents a real increase of more than 60 per cent,” he stated.
“Increased welfare provisions can do only so much to ease poverty. Getting the economy back on a path of growth, doing everything possible to facilitate and accelerate that growth is what will rescue people from poverty. This is our area of focus,” the Prime Minister added.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter