Jamaica News: Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the Economic Reform Programme’s (ERP) successful implementation has enabled the Government to double expenditure aimed at improving the standard of living in Jamaica.
He noted that allocations to improve the quality of life for the society’s most vulnerable, increased from $20 billion in the 2015/16 fiscal year to $32 billion this year.
“As a result, the social support that has been… provided to over 400,000 of our fellow Jamaicans on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), have gone up by 60 per cent,” Dr. Clarke said.
He was speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by the Finance Ministry at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College, St. Andrew on Friday (Sept. 21), to provide an update on the ERP.
Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke said the Government has also been able to increase capital expenditure on infrastructure developments.
He noted that over the last two years, this moved from $32 billion to $60billion and, in the process, has facilitated the development of five major legacy road improvement projects.
These, the Minister pointed out, have improved commuting by, among other things, reducing traffic congestion.
Dr. Clarke said the projects now underway in Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine are “only the beginning”, noting that others would likely be undertaken elsewhere as the economy continues to grow.
Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief to Jamaica, Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, in her remarks, lauded Jamaica for maintaining fiscal discipline across political administrations, noting that this has put the country on a sustainable economic path.
“At the end of the day, if the country does not believe in [the] reforms [and] if the people do not want the reforms and if the political economy of the country does not lend itself to the reforms, then [improvements] will not materialise,” she said.
“What has been a wonderful experience in this country is to see how all this has come together in tempering the disciplined policy making that has helped Jamaica to reduce its debt, which, if it was not addressed, would create a situation where there would be crisis and the need for external financing over and over again,” Dr. Ramakrishnan added.
The ERP, which is a strategic plan of action to generate sustained economic growth and long-term development for Jamaica, targets public debt reduction; macroeconomic stability; and higher levels of job creation and improved labour force productivity, as key outcomes.
These are contributing to enhanced investor confidence, poverty reduction and improved living standards, which represent a solid foundation for sustained economic growth and development.
Other speakers at the town hall meeting included: Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-chairman, Keith Duncan, and Bank of Jamaica Governor, Brian Wynter.
Source: JIS News