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Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2020 | 12:18 AM
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness.
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness.

HIV numbers still too high, says Tufton

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed on Tuesday that 700 new HIV cases were diagnosed in Jamaica in 2019.

He said the number was still too high.

This as the world celebrated World AIDS Day on Tuesday.

Some 4,500, or 14 per cent, of people with HIV in Jamaica are unaware that they have contracted the virus, the health minister estimates.

He said only 14,297, or 44 per cent, are currently on antiretroviral treatment. Sixty-six per cent of that number are virally supressed.

That means that they are unable to spread the virus through sexual intercourse.

Clarke tables bill for fiscal commission

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke tabled a bill on Tuesday to establish the long-awaited Independent Fiscal Commission (IFC).

The commission will replace the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, which was established in 2013 to monitor the implementation of Jamaica’s economic reform measures under its agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Clarke said the fiscal commission was a necessity as the country pursues economic independence.

“The fiscal commission will be the guardian and interpreter of Jamaica’s fiscal rules, monitoring compliance of these fiscal rules, reporting on fiscal outcomes, and keeping the public informed by providing independent analysis on fiscal policy developments,” the minister stated.

“Much of this rests on ensuring the continued existence of a credible fiscal path that both supports economic recovery and retains debt sustainability,” the minister said in the House of Representatives.

Economist Dr Damien King hailed the move on Tuesday.

“The finance minister continues not only to maintain sound fiscal policy, but far more importantly, to establish the institutional foundations of sound policy beyond this term of office,” King tweeted in reaction to the bill.