Our meeting today is historic. It marks the earliest start to our new parliamentary year and the presentation of the annual Budget. It is taking place well before the start of the new Financial Year in April. For the first time, the tabling of the Estimates of Expenditure will be accompanied by the Revenue Measures for the Budget.
This new, more efficient budget process reflects a strengthening of the partnership with the people and a greater maturity of our political and governance system. This truly represents a deepening of our democratic processes and our systems of accountability.
As the Government continues to pursue tough and necessary economic reforms, the Jamaican people have demonstrated admirable courage and understanding.
They have been true partners, as we strive to build an economy on a foundation of fiscal prudence and sustainable policies.
The Government believes that, even as it stays the course, it is by strengthening this partnership that we will galvanise the energies of our people to successfully tackle the challenges, achieve sustained economic growth and expand the opportunities for our people.
We must always cherish hope, and never forget that our mission is to create a better life for all Jamaicans. Hope is that quality that will sustain us in the midst of the fire. It is hope that fuels the passion to achieve what is possible.
As Emily Dickinson said:
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all”.
Let that be said of us as a people.
The 2014/15 Financial Year was another challenging one for the Jamaican people, but our resilience and steadfast deter- mination helped us to weather the toughest storms.
We ended the year with much to be proud of.
Inflation for the calendar year was 6.4%, down from 9.5% in 2013. The Net International Reserves topped US$2 billion, representing 18 weeks of imported goods and services.
The Current Account Deficit, which stood at 15% in 2011, declined to 7.3% in 2014.
The Primary Surplus at the end of November stood at $54.4 Billion – 12.8% better than the $48.2 Billion projected.
We improved our ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index, moving from 85 to 58 of 189 countries.
The country passed six consecutive IMF quarterly tests and is well on the way to passing the seventh (7th).
Jamaica made a successful return to the international capital market, raising US$800 Million from an oversubscribed offer.
Foreign Direct Investments increased by 74% or $287 million between 2012/13 and 2013/14.
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. …Read More