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  • Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the tough economic reforms being undertaken by the Government continue to bear fruit, as evidenced by the significant gains made last year.
  • The Governor-General was delivering the Throne Speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament on Thursday, February 19, under the theme: ‘Partnership for Development: Inclusive Growth…Expanding Opportunities’.
  • He noted that inflation for the calendar years was 6.45 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent in 2013, and the Net International Reserves (NIR) topped US$2 billion, representing 18 weeks of imported goods and services.

Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the tough economic reforms being undertaken by the Government continue to bear fruit, as evidenced by the significant gains made last year.

The Governor-General was delivering the Throne Speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament on Thursday, February 19, under the theme: ‘Partnership for Development: Inclusive Growth…Expanding Opportunities’.

He noted that inflation for the calendar years was 6.45 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent in 2013, and the Net International Reserves (NIR) topped US$2 billion, representing 18 weeks of imported goods and services.

The Current Account Deficit, which stood at 15 per cent in 2011, declined to 7.3 per cent in 2014, while the primary surplus at the end of November stood at $54.4 billion, which was 12.8 per cent better than the $49.2 billion in 2014.

The Governor-General also cited Jamaica’s successful return to the international capital market, raising US$800 million from an oversubscribed offer, while Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) increased by 74 per cent or $287 million between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

He also noted the country’s success in passing six consecutive International Monetary Fund (IMF) quarterly tests, and is on course to passing the seventh test.

“We improved our ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index, moving from 85 to 58 of 189 countries. We also improved our rankings in global competitiveness, and were rated the ‘best country in the Caribbean’ for doing business,” the Governor-General stated.

In the area of tourism, the country achieved another milestone, welcoming over 3.5 million visitors to the island. Provisional gross foreign exchange earnings between January and December are in excess of US$2.2 billion, representing a 5.8 per cent increase over 2013.

The Governor-General also cited major infrastructural work undertaken to develop the country’s road network, including the Linstead to Moneague section of the North/South leg of Highway 2000, which opened just before Independence Day.

The entire project, which leads from Caymanas in St. Catherine, to Ocho Rios, St. Ann, is an investment of US$730 million funded by the China Development Bank.

There were also significant achievements in reducing crime, with a 17 per cent fall in major categories of crimes in 2014, including murder, rape and shooting. Police fatal shootings also declined by 54 per cent, while there were over 600 arrests for lotto scamming.

Turning to housing, the Governor-General said the year ended with the National Housing Trust (NHT) spending nearly $17 billion of its projected $22 billion budgeted for housing solutions for 2014/15.  A total of 1,827 two-bedroom wooden units were completed under the Government’s low-income Food for the Poor/PetroCaribe Housing Project, aimed at households at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

Significant strides have also been made in enhancing gender equality, the empowerment of women, and press freedom. Jamaica led the world with the most women managers at 59.3 per cent, jumping eight places, and is ranked ninth of 180 countries for press freedom, the Governor-General said.