Speech

TOWARDS A DECADE OF GROWTH TO ANCHOR OUR PEACE AND PROSPERITY!

We are gathered here at the dawn of a new decade. The seeds we have planted in previous years are germinating and we commit to making this new decade one of increased growth, peace and prosperity in our land.

Honourable Members, Jamaica has much to celebrate. Our emphasis on inclusive and sustainable economic growth has paid great dividends for our beloved nation. In recent years, Jamaica has made an extraordinary economic turnaround.

We have experienced nineteen consecutive quarters of positive economic growth.

Our debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be below 92 per cent by the end of March 2020 from a high of 147 per cent seven years ago.

Lower levels of debt accumulation and servicing have resulted in the State being able to redirect resources to invest in areas that will promote social and infrastructure development.

Our October 2019 unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent is the lowest in Jamaica’s history.

Our regulatory reforms aimed at lessening the time and cost to do business have resulted in Jamaica being ranked as the best economy in the Caribbean for ease of doing business.

We have trained more than 20,000 persons through the HOPE Programme and the Jamaica National Service Corps and training continues.

Jamaica is at the forefront of global efforts towards positive action on climate change and good environmental stewardship. The Government has implemented a ban on single use plastic and polystyrene, started a programme to plant three million trees (one for each Jamaican), and is continuously transforming our energy and electricity sector to be more sustainable.

Over the last four years, the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and private sector developers would have recorded over 30,000 housing starts.

While we must celebrate and justly be proud of our accomplishments, we must acknowledge that there is no room for complacency in an increasingly connected, but rapidly changing world. Our Government has created a set of plans, policies, programmes and legislation which demonstrates its resolve to make this Jamaica’s Decade of Growth, Peace and Prosperity as we move to fulfill Vision 2030.

OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Honourable Members, the Office of the Prime Minister has responsibility for the overall performance and effective management of the Government. In 2019/20, the largest merger ever in the history of Jamaica’s public sector was completed. The Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) Trust/National Training Agency (NTA), the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, and the National Youth Service and Apprenticeship Boards were merged to create the HEART/ National Service and Training Agency Trust; a total human capital development institution for Jamaica. In 2017, at the start of the merger, HEART was training 74,000 persons; in 2018/19, 132,000 persons were trained, for 2019/20, HEART is on target to train 152, 600. Honourable Members, this is a 106 percent increase.

Under the National Identification Systems (NIDS) Project, the non-NIDS activities have commenced, for example, infrastructure upgrades that are necessary to strengthen Jamaica’s cybersecurity profile. The Government will also complete implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure Project and advance the digital transformation of the Registrar General’s Department.

The top legislative priorities for the period will include the tabling of a new NIDS Bill; amendments to the Registration of (Births and Deaths) Act, and the review of the National Housing Trust Act and Regulations.

THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND THE PUBLIC SERVICE (MOFPS)

Honourable Members, Jamaica successfully concluded its programme with the International Monetary Fund in November 2019. Over the course of this three-year Precautionary Standby Arrangement, the Government of Jamaica met all structural benchmarks, all quantitative performance criteria and all indicative targets.

Our economic achievements based on where we are coming from have been nothing short of extraordinary and have been globally recognised.

We have now had several years of low inflation and record low interest rates. Business and consumer confidence are high.

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