My fellow Jamaicans,
As we celebrate our 57th year of independence, we have much to be thankful for:
◙ The lowest unemployment rate in our history at 7.8% and youth unemployment fell by 6 percent.
◙ The annual inflation rate is low and stable at 4.2% and the consumer price index is trending downwards.
◙ Our credit ratings are positive, and our foreign exchange reserves are at historically high levels.
◙ We have had record breaking tourist arrivals for the last two years exceeding 4.3 million visitors with an 8.6% increase in earnings for the industry.
◙ The deposit interest rate is at 3.2%, which is a record low.
◙ Our Stock Market continues to perform well, and the consumer and business confidence indices remain high. These are always good indicators of economic health.
◙ The construction industry is seeing sustained growth, right across Jamaica and particularly in Kingston where we see new construction projects going up at a pace not seen in recent times. And the NHT is providing housing solutions for new homeowners like never in its history.
By the end of this month, over 12,500 new housing solutions would have been provided to the market since 2017 and we have lowered interest rates for you.
If you are an NHT contributor earning below JA$15,000.00 per week you pay ZERO PERCENT on your mortgage. You can’t get lower than that!
If you earn between $15,000.00 and $30,000 per week your mortgage rate is 1%. General mortgage rates are coming down steadily from double digit rates to now on average 7.5%.
We have also introduced the intergenerational mortgage to assist older persons and families to acquire a home. What better way to celebrate your independence than by having a chance to own your home?
Many positive things are happening in Jamaica right now. There is much to celebrate on our 57th birthday.
There is no question that at long last Jamaicans can feel proud that we are using our political independence to secure our economic independence.
However, I want you to know that I am under no illusion that all is well.
Notwithstanding the great performance of the government, there is no room for complacency; there is still much work to be done and pressing issues to be resolved.
Environmental issues are now of greater concern to all Jamaicans. And they should be, in the face of more frequent and intense droughts, shifting rainfall patterns and more frequent and intense hurricanes.
This government that I lead has taken more decisive actions in favour of our environment than any other government in our recent history.
We aborted the Goat Island project.
We rejected coal as an option for powering a bauxite operation in Jamaica.
We have put in place an enterprise team to oversee the divestment and modernization of Jamaica’s solid waste management system; which is at an advance stage.
We instituted a ban on some plastic items
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