No longer a dream

No longer a dream

Economic independence for Jamaica is no longer a dream — GG

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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“Economic independence for Jamaica is no longer a dream; it is becoming a reality,” according to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who delivered the 2020/2021 Throne Speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament yesterday under the theme 'Towards a Decade of Growth to Anchor Our Peace and Prosperity'.

In a wide-ranging speech that spoke to the success of the Government in the previous year and looked to the year ahead, the governor general noted that Jamaica had successfully concluded its programme with the International Monetary Fund in November 2019 and over the course of the threeyear Precautionary Standby Arrangement, the Government of Jamaica had met all structural benchmarks, all quantitative performance criteria and all indicative targets.

“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,” the governor general said.

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

“Our stock market is among the best performing in the world. International rating agencies, Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch have all recently upgraded the Government of Jamaica's long-term foreign and local currency ratings to their highest levels in decades.

Our net international reserves now stand at over US$3 billion.” Saying that Jamaica has much to celebrate, the governor general said, “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 19 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.”

On debt and future development, he said, “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,” the governor general said, adding, “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.”

On the stock market, the governor general said “The Government has continued its policy of using the public equity markets as a vehicle for divestment of public assets to allow broadscale ownership of these assets by Jamaicans.

In April 2019, history was made when 31,200 Jamaicans invested in the initial public offer (IPO) of Wigton Windfarm Limited.

The Government recently launched an offer for sale of shares in Transjamaican Highway Limited. This is expected to be the largest IPO in Jamaica's history and possibly in the entire region; similar divestments are planned for later this year.”

After speaking on areas covered by each of the ministries, the governor general concluded by saying, “Our people are deserving of the bountiful reward that will come from our collective efforts at building a stronger Jamaica— a greater Jamaica.

“Our collective sacrifices as a people are bearing fruit and we are better placed than ever before to chart a path to a future of prosperity and dignity for every Jamaican.

“Let us build on the economic stability which we have achieved in this last decade to now anchor in this new decade; our growth, peace and prosperity,” he concluded.

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