Prime Minister Emphasises Link Between Economic and Social Development


Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has stressed that the well-being of the Jamaican family must rest on a sound economic foundation.
“You cannot have social development, without economic development. The two must go hand in hand. You cannot eliminate poverty without producing economic growth and removing the distortions in the economy,” the Prime Minister said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was making her contribution to the 2007/08 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, yesterday (May 1).
“When I talk constantly about raising the living standards of the poor and marginalized, it is always with an appreciation of the economic fundamentals,” the Prime Minister said.
“Look at the record of my administration on the economy. It is a fact that inflation in the last calendar year was 5.8 per cent, the lowest in 30 years. It is also a fact that interest rates declined four times last year, bringing them to their lowest level in 20 years,” she added. The Prime Minister also noted that last year unemployment fell to 9.6 per cent; the net international reserves stood at US$2.3 billion at the end of December; and that the holdings of foreign exchange by private individuals stood atUS$2 billion at the end of 2006.
“It is a fact that GDP grew by 2.5 per cent. Bauxite production reached approximately 15 million tonnes in 2006, the highest level of production since 1974,” said the Prime Minister.
Mrs. Simpson Miller informed that agriculture was up by 15.9 per cent and the services sector grew by nearly 10 per cent. Tourism saw a 17 per cent growth in visitor arrivals and an 18 per cent increase in cruise ship passengers.
“These are facts, not fantasy. Obviously, we have not reached where we want to go, but these are clear indications that the Jamaican family is moving forward,” said Mrs. Simpson Miller.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rated the Jamaican economic performance as strong.
According to Mrs. Simpson Miller, the IMF consultation report of February 16, 2007, noted that the “economic performance has been remarkably strong, with Jamaica on target this fiscal year to achieve its best growth performance in a decade.”
She also said the report noted that the economy has made strong recovery from the shocks encountered in 2004/05, and that the Bank of Jamaica has successfully managed to lower inflation without constraining economic recovery.
“We must be doing something right, when the IMF gives us high praise for our economic performance. These positive assessments by the IMF carry a great deal of weight in international circles,” said Mrs. Simpson Miller.
“The economic model is producing results, concrete and measurable results,” she added.
The Prime Minister said there were still challenges to face. “but the macro-economic indicators point out clearly that we are moving in the right direction.”

JIS Social