Concluding his whirl-wind visit to Jamaica last Friday, Moreno noted that debt-to-GDP was on a downward trajectory, growth had restarted, inflation was under control, the current account and reserves had experienced remarkable improvements, the labour market had stabilised, and the unemployment rate was declining.
The following is the full text of Mr. Moreno's statement issued at the end of his visit on Friday:
It has been a true pleasure to visit Jamaica again. I wish to express my gratitude to the government and people of Jamaica for their hospitality during this enlightening stay.
I had the pleasure of meeting Prime Minister The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller and Dr. The Hon. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance and Planning, in addition to several members of Cabinet, members of the private sector and civil society. Our discussions focused on the economic outlook for the country and on future areas for collaboration between the IDB and Jamaica. This visit also allowed me to commend the Prime Minister and her Government again for their commitment to reform Jamaica’s economy and to confirm our Bank’s strong support for Jamaica, as they continue to work towards their goal laid out in the Vision 2030; ‘Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’.
The visit also gave me the opportunity to see first-hand two projects that are supported by the IDB: the Jamaica – German Automotive School (JAGAS) and the new Courtyard Marriott hotel project here in Kingston. I was truly moved by the dedication and the eagerness to learn of the students at JAGAS. Based on the training that these young people are receiving, they will have acquired useful life skills and preparation for careers in the automotive sector.
I was similarly impressed by various aspects of the Marriott project. This new hotel will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified building in Jamaica. Through collaboration with the Citizen Security and Justice Program, the Marriott project has provided job training opportunities to a number of Jamaica’s at-risk youth. This innovative project clearly reflects the confidence of its investors that Jamaica is a good place to conduct business.
I am truly impressed with Jamaica’s progress since my last visit. Debt-to-GDP is on a downward trajectory, growth has restarted, inflation is under control, the current account and reserves have experienced remarkable improvements. Most importantly, the labor market has stabilized and the unemployment rate is declining.
Understandably, investors remain cautious, but I also notice that confidence in the sustainability of Jamaica’s fiscal adjustment has improved. The government has sent a strong signal about its commitment by implementing key reforms early, for example, the tax incentive legislation and the fiscal rule.
Jamaica’s positive efforts have not gone unnoticed. All major rating agencies have improved either Jamaica’s credit ratings, or the outlook, or both during the last 12 months. Jamaica also rose 27 places in the World Bank’s most recent Doing Business survey, mostly due to improvements in access to credit through the introduction of two credit bureaus and the adoption of a new law on secured transactions (also known as Secured Interest in Personal Property), which broadens the range of assets that can be used as collateral and established a unified collateral registry.
As Jamaica’s authorities continue the transformation of the economy, important reforms remain to be implemented, including increasing the efficiency of the public sector and further improvements in competitiveness and the business climate. The IDB is actively working on the next Country Strategy that covers the period 2015-2019. This strategy will focus on accelerating growth and equip Jamaica to embrace the reality of a new, modern economy. We at the IDB are fully committed to continuing our support of Jamaica.
Thank you again for Jamaica’s warm welcome. I want to extend my best wishes from the IDB to the people of Jamaica for the festive holiday season and a most productive and fulfilling 2015.
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