Jamaica Gleaner / A drastic drop in the unemployment figure, a stable exchange rate and a booming construction industry Finance Minister Audley Shaw said, are indicators that the country is in a good position for growth and increased job creation.
Shaw was addressing the ceremonial signing for funding being provided by the European Union-Caribbean Investment Facility to enhance the efficient use of energy resources at the ministry’s offices recently. He said that as finance minister, he was pushing to make sure that all Jamaicans are able to enjoy a stable economic and business environment.
“I want to indicate that the Government of Jamaica is very pleased at the progress that is being made in the macroeconomic environment. We have heard a report from the Planning Institute of Jamaica that unemployment rate is the lowest in almost 10 years. We have dropped now to 10.3 per cent, which is a good sign we are going in the right direction. There are other important signs. Our exchange rate has shown some encouraging signs – coming down from US$131.50 we are now at $125, and we remain stable,” the finance minister said.
He conceded, however, that there was a far way to get to a satisfactory level, but noted that avenues were being created to improve development and growth.
“There is growth, not to the point where we want it yet, but when we look at the tourism sector, it is growing at an unprecendented level. We are targeting 14,000 new hotel rooms in another three to four years. Equally, we have growth in the business process outsourcing sector. When we look across the city of Kingston, for the first time in a long time, cranes are up in the air, apartment buildings, office buildings, the construction industry is literally booming right now,” he declared.
He also said that he was encouraged by the recent Fitch Ratings report which affirmed Jamaica’s long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at ‘B’ and revised the outlook from stable to positive.