KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday August 31, 2017 – Jamaica has post a record budget surplus and is on track to lower its debt, further signaling that the economy has shrugged off the lethargy which has plagued the country for years.
Minister of Finance and Public Service Audley Shaw has reported a primary budget surplus of $135.9 billion, which was $7.7 billion or six percent above the targeted surplus.
Shaw, who recently named Finance Minister of the Year for the Caribbean by the GlobalMarkets newspaper, told journalists at a news briefing that the country’s debt is likely to fall below the 109 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2017/18. The debt-to-GDP ratio was already down to 115 per cent of GDP, coming from 150 per cent of GDP, and will remain on track.
He attributed that development to the fact that, under the Government’s most recent debt management exercise, the country was able to repay some US$526 million in debt that was issued under the Jamaica Debt Exchange.
In return for raising those funds to meet the prepayment, Shaw explained that the Government was able to issue longer-term debts of US$869 million that will now mature in 2028 and 2045, instead of 2019 to 2025.
“This strong budget performance has provided the Government with more funds for investing in the Jamaican people and future generations,” he noted.
The Finance Minister also noted that Jamaica had seen a rise in foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the areas of tourism, port expansion and business process outsourcing. He said that FDIs had increased from US$580 million in 2014 to US$866 in 2016.
Shaw said Jamaicans were benefiting from the improved economic showing, citing the rise in the income tax threshold to $1.5 million and an increase in social security payment which benefited an estimated 300,000 citizens.