Jamaican Government to Continue Strengthening Pillars of Sustainable Growth

The Government of Jamaica will, through a number of investments and initiatives, continue to strengthen the pillars of sustainable integrated economic growth on which future economic prosperity is predicated.

This was emphasized on Thursday, March 31st by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, when he delivered the 2005/06 Throne Speech in Parliament, to mark the beginning of the new fiscal year. Sir Howard spoke on the theme: ‘A Sound Foundation, A Secure Future’.

“The government is committed to ensuring that facilitation by the bureaucracy is efficient, that there is constant focus on improving product and productivity and that for all major projects, there is ready project development support,” he stressed.

Sir Howard further said that the support, which was being provided, was aimed at “ensuring that there is holistic development in the areas where major investment is occurring, and strengthening and diversifying the supply chain to the export sector”. He said efforts would also be pursued to ensure that economic opportunities were spread as widely as possible to facilitate even and equitable development across the country.

Pinpointing initiatives across the various sectors, the Governor-General noted that as part of the new tourism marketing strategy for destination Jamaica, government was facilitating new attractions based on the country’s rich heritage in areas such as sports, music and culture. “These are being encouraged not only in the traditional resort areas, but also in other carefully selected areas of the island, including Kingston,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the field of agriculture, Sir Howard noted that “we will continue to forge ahead with sharing best practices among farmers and therefore add to the list of our successes in the development of new products and increased production of high quality commodities for both the domestic and the export markets”.

In the bauxite and alumina sector, he said that alumina production attained record levels last year, surpassing all previous output figures, adding that this would be further boosted by the anticipated major investment at the Halse Hall plant in Clarendon over the 2005-2007 period.

He also cited developments in the transport sector, where major work is continuing with the Kingston container South Terminal being the latest area for expansion. “It is of worthy note that the Kingston transshipment container terminal is moving gradually upward in rankings of the top 100 ports of the world,” he said.

The Governor-General highlighted the construction of a transportation hub in Half Way Tree, the ground for which was broken on Wednesday March 30th by Prime Minister P. J. Patterson . The facility will shortly begin to provide one of the most modern passenger terminal facilities in the region.

“Developments in other areas of infrastructure will include the provision of 28 water projects islandwide, the completion of three sewerage treatment projects, and the implementation of two major irrigation schemes,” he informed, adding, “we will further improve the living conditions of our people by the completion of housing projects and shelter solutions”.

On another note, Sir Howard asserted that it was only when citizens were equipped and motivated to give of their best that the country could truly realize maximum growth in the economy. “Efficiency, productivity, creativity and flexibility of mind are the required ingredients for the cutting edge in a competitive world economy, which refuses to grant us favours,” he said.

However, he pointed out that “we need to go beyond that. We must create an environment in which our people are not only skilled and competent but are also able to live peaceably with all persons, to go gently and quietly about their business and for each of us to make a contribution to keeping our neighbourhoods, our communities, our towns and cities safe”.

The Governor General pointed out that there was clear evidence of economic growth, “but we must ensure that the conditions exist to guarantee that it will be sustained for ourselves and for the generations yet to come”.

The Throne Speech outlines priority policies and programmes which government has undertaken and will continue to pursue during the new legislative year, and points the way forward for economic and social development.

Meanwhile, the Estimates of Expenditure in which the budget allocations for the fiscal year will be set out, is to be tabled in the House at 2:00 p.m. today by Minister of Finance, Dr. Omar Davies.

The Standing Finance Committee will deliberate on the Estimates from April 5 to 7 at Gordon House.

The Finance Minister will also open the Budget Debate on April 14, while Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw will make his presentation on April 19.

Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Ken Baugh is scheduled to contribute to the Budget Debate on April 21, and Prime Minister P.J. Patterson will make his presentation on April 26.

The Finance Minister will close the debate on April 27

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