“The results…speak for themselves… . The results have been remarkable to all who have paid attention. Not only have we been able to reduce debt by half the gross domestic product (GDP) but we have had inflation being moderate over the last four or five years at three per cent to four per cent,” Dr. Clarke said. Story Highlights He noted that this is further amplified by the country having successfully completed two back-to-back reform programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says Jamaica’s ability to be fiscally responsible has greatly enhanced its standing with international lending agencies. Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says Jamaica’s ability to be fiscally responsible has greatly enhanced its standing with international lending agencies.He noted that this is further amplified by the country having successfully completed two back-to-back reform programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).“The results…speak for themselves… . The results have been remarkable to all who have paid attention. Not only have we been able to reduce debt by half the gross domestic product (GDP) but we have had inflation being moderate over the last four or five years at three per cent to four per cent,” Dr. Clarke said.“We have had a return to external sustainability, especially with the reserves in our central bank. We have had consistent and elevated levels of foreign direct investment, while unemployment is at the lowest level in our history,” he added.The Minister was speaking at the LAC Debt Group XV Annual Meeting at the Secrets Resort in Montego Bay on October 3.Speaking within the context of an unemployment rate in March 2013 of 16 per cent to an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent as at April 2019, Dr. Clarke pointed out that “it tells a tale of a country which has been having a complete reversal of fortunes for the better”.“Never before in the entire history of Jamaica has unemployment been so low. More people are employed today than in the country’s entire history. We have seen fiscal space being created by the downward trajectory of debt that has allowed for a rapid increase in capital expenditure –an increase by 250 per cent over the past four years,” the Finance and the Public Service Minister stated.Dr. Clarke also informed that the country has experienced its longest quarterly stretch of economic growth.“Twenty-five years ago, we were only measuring growth on an annual basis. We are now in our 18th consecutive quarter of economic growth, and even though the levels are not where we would want them to be, they have, however, doubled our 40-year historical average,” he stated.Meanwhile, Dr. Clarke said while Jamaica is not yet out of the woods, he is confident that the systems are in place where “we can build on what we have”.He also mentioned the proposed Fiscal Council, which will be the final arbiter of Jamaica’s Fiscal Rules that stipulate, among other things, a debt-reduction target of 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by financial year 2025/26.
“After my meeting with the President yesterday, we have a clear agreement that our Regional Office will from now on work closely with all five Central Asian Republics,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, told a press conference in Tashkent, the country’s capital. “I am extremely happy that I myself, my Office and my staff are now set to play an active role in trying to secure a future where every citizen and resident of Uzbekistan has their human rights observed, and state-sponsored violations become a distant memory,” Mr. Zeid added. He recalled that when the Regional Office was established in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, in 2008, Uzbekistan made it clear that the office covered four countries, not five.Citing a series of recent Government initiatives, Mr. Zeid said that human rights figure prominently across the five sets of priorities laid out in President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s 2017-21 Action Strategy. The five priorities are: improving the public administration system; ensuring rule of law, and reform of the justice system; developing and liberalizing the economy; developing the social sector; and security, religious tolerance and inter-ethnic harmony, and constructive foreign policy. “The successful implementation of those reforms could have a transformational impact on the country’s future,” Mr. Zeid said. “It is going to be a long and difficult road to get near that point, with obstructions and setbacks, but I do believe the journey has begun.” He said he encouraged the Government to monitor actual human rights results as part of the High Level Government monitoring of the implementation of the Action Strategy. “Needless to say, frameworks and plans are one thing, and results are another – especially when it comes to human rights, when States often make fine promises but fail to back them up with real change,” Mr. Zeid said. He also said he has raised with the authorities the need to continue with the release of more political prisoners, and suggested the Government ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, as it would greatly enhance and accelerate the effort to end torture, one of the issues that has been most damaging to Uzbekistan’s international reputation over the years.He is also recommending – and the Government itself is proposing – closer cooperation with the other parts of the UN human rights system, including the treaty bodies and special procedures, welcoming an intention to invite the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief to visit the country. This was the first-ever visit to Uzbekistan by any of the six UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, since the Office of the High Commissioner was established in 1993. “Uzbekistan is, in my view, at a crossroads,” Mr. Zeid said.