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EGC highlights outstanding economic performance over last 3 years

Jamaica Observer 2019-05-17 20:30:20

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The country has performed well in several key areas of the economy over the last three years.

This is according to Chairman of the Economic Growth Council (EGC), Michael Lee-Chin, who noted that since 2016, debt to gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from 147 per cent to under 100 per cent, net international reserves (NIR) is now greater than 3.1 billion, and inflation is at 2.4 per cent.

He said that the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) policy interest rate is now at “an unheard of” 1.25 per cent; consumer confidence is at an all-time high of over 177.5 per cent; and business confidence is also at an all-time high of 151 per cent.

Lee-Chin, who was speaking at the EGC's Eighth Quarterly Report at Jamaica House on Wednesday, said that these achievements are due, in part, to the work of the Council since its establishment in 2016.

He noted that over the last three years, the Council has had over 380 meetings with stakeholders, noting that the Secretariat “has worked tirelessly to ensure that projects are followed up”.

He said that the Council has helped to change the narrative of the nation from fiscal consolidation, or belt-tightening, to growth.

He pointed out that, by working to achieve a GDP growth rate of five per cent in four years, “we have imbued confidence in the nation, so that the population is confident that if we haul together, five in four is possible”.

Turning to another area of high performance, Lee-Chin mentioned the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), which was, in 2018, recognised by Bloomberg as the number-one stock exchange in the world. It has been the number-one stock market over the last five years.

“The JSE index was 152,000 (points) in April of 2016. Today, it is 410,000 (points), an increase of 170 per cent over the last three years,” the ECG chairman said.

The Government launched the ECG to provide advice on a framework of proposed initiatives along with sub-initiatives that are expected to yield economic growth.