Mr. Speaker, today I want to share with you the significant progress we have made together in our journey towards growth and prosperity and to outline the path forward.
Through great sacrifice, we have achieved levels of fiscal stability not seen in Jamaica for many decades. However, we must remember why this matters.
It is about improving lives; and stability on its own is not enough to do that. We have many more rivers to cross to achieve prosperity for all Jamaicans.
Attaining and sustaining fiscal stability, economic growth, and prosperity must become the shared goal and responsibility of all!
I am pleased to report that, as at the end of December 2017, the Government of Jamaica has successfully met all the quantitative performance criteria and indicative targets agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the current Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement.
Passing these tests is important and necessary, but it is also insufficient. It is our focus and priority to ensure that we also pass the even more important test set by the people of Jamaica – I call it the People’s Test.
Mr. Speaker, I define the People’s Test as the test for a more prosperous society that the people can see, feel, and touch which includes a growing economy with high levels of investment, safer communities, higher standards of living, more and better job opportunities, improved roads and infrastructure – particularly in our rural areas, a lower tax burden, a stable exchange rate, increased opportunities for personal and professional advancement, and meaningful access to affordable housing as well as high-quality education and healthcare.
This is our focus and priority for the future – to build on the foundation of fiscal stability to achieve greater economic growth and prosperity, so as to ensure that we meet and exceed the targets set under the People’s Test!
Mr. Speaker, with this brief introduction, I want to turn your attention to the structure of my presentation today:
I. Review of the Economy for Fiscal Year 2017/18
II. Policy Priorities and Targets for Fiscal Year 2018/19
III. Highlights of the Expenditure Budget for Fiscal Year 2018/19
IV. Highlights of the Financing of the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018/19