Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has been trumpeting the country’s economic performance saying the country’s economy is in its best shape for 50 years.
In Opening the 2019/20 Budget debate in the House Thursday, Dr Clarke said macro-economic stability is entrenched. “We have had low, stable inflation for four years. Domestic interest rates are at levels never before seen in Jamaica.”
The Central Bank has lowered the policy rate 4 times this fiscal year to a record low of 1.5% in February 2019. Market interest rates for individuals and businesses have never been lower.
He said many individuals and businesses are now able to access single digit interest rates on Jamaican dollar loans. He said at one time this was unthinkable.
“Mr. Speaker, Jamaica has enjoyed 15 consecutive quarters of economic growth, and based on the PIOJ forecasts that record is set to stretch to 16 consecutive quarters for the period ended December 2018. Since we started measuring economic growth quarterly in 1997, this is the longest unbroken stretch of quarterly economic growth that Jamaica has ever experienced,” Dr Clarke said.
He also turned to the historic employment figures. “Jamaica is moving in the right direction. Mr. Speaker, there are more persons employed in Jamaica today than ever before in the history of Jamaica. This Mr Speaker is growth with equity. Our contract with you is that we will manage the economy in a way that encourages investment and expansion that delivers jobs for you. Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate recorded in this financial year is at the lowest level ever recorded in Jamaica’s history. Female unemployment is the lowest ever. This Mr Speaker is growth with equity and Jamaica is moving in the right direction,” Dr Clarke said.