Jamaica's economic progress a model for other countries — PM

Friday, March 15, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the economic progress made by Jamaica in recent times can be used as a model for other countries to follow.

He noted that the economic successes gained came at “great sacrifice” by Jamaicans, but noted that there is “social consensus” among citizens about the changes that are needed for the country to continue to advance.

The prime minister, who was addressing heads of diplomatic missions at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday, cited among the economic achievements the reduction of the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, which will fall to 96 per cent at the end of the 2018/19 fiscal year on March 31.

This represents the lowest level of debt in nearly two decades, and the first time it will fall below 100 per cent over that period.

Holness noted, further, that the macroeconomic indicators remain positive, with foreign reserves above the level deemed adequate and the current account remains low and sustainable.

Additionally, market interest rates are at historic lows and fiscal performance continues to be strong.

Holness told the diplomats, representing approximately 60 countries, that Jamaica is addressing its infrastructural needs, with increased capital spending on the development of major roadways in and around Kingston.

“We expect that we will finish those major infrastructure developments in the next two months, and that will have a significant impact on our economy,” he said.

“Clearly, the improvements in sewerage, water (and) telecommunications will create the basis for the regeneration of Kingston, and we're seeing that happening now,” the prime minister added.

He noted, too, that tourism continues to grow, with players from countries with which Jamaica has forged diplomatic ties investing in the sector.

Turning to crime and violence, the prime minister assured the diplomatic community that the Government has taken significant steps to address the problem.

“We have to… deal with things like intimate partner violence, domestic violence and violence among youth. We are emphasising social programmes to address those,” he said.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, in his remarks, told the diplomats that the Government remains committed to human rights and the protection of Jamaica's citizens.

He noted that the security forces maintained a commendable record in regards to respect for human rights during the recent states of public emergency.

“Indeed, we took time to retrain the officers who were involved in the operations, so we did not have the challenges to human rights that can be a problem when we have a state of enhanced security measures,” he said.

Dr Chang said that consistent with the obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, Jamaica notified the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) of its intention to impose the states of emergency.

Additionally, dialogue was facilitated with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by providing the entity with detailed information about the institutional arrangements put in place to safeguard rights during the period of enhanced policing and military activity.

Dr Chang maintained that the country is committed to strong relations with its bilateral partners and looks forward to continued collaboration on various issues.

The address was part of Diplomatic Week activities being observed from March 12 to 15 under the theme 'Building Partnerships for Sustainable Development'. The week brings together 60 heads of mission, including 35 non-resident heads.

The diplomats are being treated to entertainment and tours during the week of activities.

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