PM touts administration's fiscal efforts
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says her administration is committed to ensuring a stable environment for the further growth and development of the financial sector. Speaking at the NCB Foundation's 'One Billion Dollars in Nation Building' event at the Terra Nova Hotel on Thursday, Simpson Miller said that the Government's commitment was reflected in the passage of the Banking Services Act last year, which forms part of the critical reforms to strengthen the regulatory capacity and effective supervision of the banking and securities dealers sector.
While commending the nation's largest bank for its significant contribution to nation building, the prime minister pointed out that the Government was also taking steps to improve the business climate so that companies like NCB can flourish. "It was deliberate action that resulted in the country's improvement by 27 places from 85th to 58th of 189 countries in the 2015 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report," Simpson Miller said.
According to her, a major contributing factor to this performance has been improvements in access to credit, which has been facilitated by the establishment of credit bureaus and the adoption of a new secured transactions law. The range of assets that can be used as security for loans has been broadened and a modern, notice-based collateral registry established.
Simpson Miller said the Government has worked diligently over the past three years to streamline the country's fiscal accounts. "We will remain disciplined and committed in seeing the reforms through to successful completion," she said.
"Crucial monetary and fiscal targets have consistently been met; we have passed eight IMF tests; inflation for the fiscal year to April 2015 is four per cent, the lowest in Jamaica in 48 years; at May, the country's net international reserves stood at US$2.4 billion dollars, even healthier than the IMF target of US$1.43 billion dollars," Simpson Miller outlined.
She added that in February, the international rating agency, Fitch, revised the outlook for Jamaica from 'Stable' to 'Positive' and reaffirmed the country's positive long-term foreign currency and local currency ratings. "These are gains that must not be squandered."
While acknowledging that the "people of Jamaica are making great sacrifices," Simpson Miller insisted that "we must press on to achieve even more for them".
The prime minister said that the Government remains committed to the economic reform programme to achieve fiscal consolidation, macro-economic stability, high levels of economic growth, job creation and social protection for the most vulnerable sections of the population.