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Jamaica’s economy turning in positive direction, says Phillips

Published:Friday | August 30, 2013 | 1:56 PM

The Government says economic sacrifices endured by Jamaicans in recent months are beginning to yield positive results.

The comment from the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Peter Phillips, comes against the background of confirmation from the Bank of Jamaica that the economy has continued in a recession after recording a fifth consecutive quarter of negative growth at the end of June.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica has also published data showing the unemployment rate up to April, rising by almost two per cent over the last year to 16.3 per cent.

However, speaking at a business function yesterday, Phillips said attention should be paid to what he calls hopeful signs on the economic horizon.

The Finance Minister said there is a slight but important and significant improvement in investor confidence resulting from the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) approval of the Extended Fund Facility for Jamaica in May of this year.

He said business confidence will improve further with Jamaica having passed the first quarterly IMF test.

Also, he noted that the country’s inflation and net international reserve targets for the June quarter have been met with projections for growth.

However, the finance minister said the best measure of the improvement in confidence is to be seen in the boost in the Jamaica Stock Exchange index over the last few months, with growth of close to six per cent over the April to June quarter.

He noted that the Central Treasury Management System, which was scheduled for completion as part of the economic programme for March 2014, has been implemented six months ahead of schedule.

The central treasury management system deals with the overall management of public sector finances.

Its implementation means that Jamaica is no longer paying interest to borrow its own money from private financiers.

Phillips said this will result in significant savings for the Consolidated Fund and for smoother management of public resources.

The Finance Minister, while hailing the positive developments, cautioned that much more needs to be done, as the country remains in a period of significant economic change.


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