Jamaica News: The Government remains committed to ongoing policy and programme implementation, aimed at maintaining Jamaica’s stable macroeconomic environment, thereby facilitating the requisite growth for sustainable and inclusive development.
Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the indicators of several measures initiated have, to date, spurred vibrancy in the economy and optimism among key stakeholders.
He was delivering the Throne Speech at the 2019/20 Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, on Thursday (February 14), under the theme ‘In Partnership towards the New Prosperous Jamaica’.
The Governor-General said the indicators include 15 consecutive quarters of economic growth; low inflation; strong investment inflows; record job growth; robust net international reserves; and a debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio on course to fall below 100 per cent by the end of the 2018/19 fiscal year on March 31.
He said that in keeping with the thrust to improve corporate governance, Cabinet approved the Policy Guidelines for nominating, selecting and appointing the Boards of Public Bodies, and the issuance of drafting instructions for the accompanying Regulations to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
Additionally, he said Cabinet approved the establishment of an Independent Fiscal Council as part of measures to strengthen Jamaica’s Fiscal Responsibility Framework.
“The Fiscal Council will be an independent, non-partisan institution with the responsibility of helping to promote economically sustainable fiscal policies, monitoring the Government’s compliance with the fiscal rules and informing the public on economic matters,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Governor-General advised that the Bill to modernise the Bank of Jamaica and make inflation targeting the “cornerstone” of monetary policy is before a Joint Select Parliamentary Committee.
“A modernised and strengthened Central Bank will institutionalise and entrench low, stable and predictable inflation, which is a critical platform for any modern economy,” he emphasised.
The Governor-General said ensuring access to finance and deepening financial inclusion are key Government objectives.
As such, the proposed Micro Credit Act will be tabled to provide the legislative framework for the private microcredit lending sector.
Additionally, proposed legislation to amend the Cooperative Societies Act and introduce a prudential regulatory credit union regime, will strengthen deposit insurance and reduce risk.
The Governor-General advised that the Customs Act will be modernised by repealing the existing Act. The new Act is slated for tabling during 2019/20.
He said that the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) will, this year, bolster its Non-Intrusive Inspection Programme (NIIP) by expanding and utilising more modern cargo imaging scanners at marine ports and warehouses in Kingston and Montego Bay.
“The Jamaica Customs Agency plays a crucial role in revenue collection and border activities. Tax Administration Jamaica and the Jamaica Customs Agency continue technology enhancements as part of measures to make revenue collection efficient and effective,” he noted.
The Governor-General also informed that the Administration will be prioritising public financial management.
This, he indicated, encompasses disaster risk management, border security and sound policies “that will result in greater savings [through debt reduction], faster economic growth, and better social protection.
The Governor-General said Jamaica has been commended, on several counts, on the resulting out-turns to date by its International Development Partners.
Notable, he pointed out, is Fitch Rating Agency’s recent upgrade of the Government’s Long-Term Foreign Issuer and Local Currency Issuer Default Rating to ‘B+’ from ‘B’, while revising its outlook to ‘Stable’ from ‘Positive’.
The agency also upgraded Jamaica’s credit rating ceiling to ‘BB-’ from ‘B’, the highest in over 10 years.
“These are positive signs on which to build a firm foundation for a prosperous and new Jamaica for all. Indeed, Jamaica is on a path to economic independence,” the Governor-General said.
Source: JIS News