- Presentations and discussions were robust at the Sectoral Debate indicating Jamaica democracy is very much alive and well.
- The Government of Jamaica continues to steer the ship of state through the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The coronavirus pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on the country, which lost just over 1,000 lives.
Madam Speaker, my task and my honor, today, is to close the Sectoral Debate for Fiscal Year 2021-2022.
I think we will agree that the presentations and discussions have been robust and that our democracy is very much alive and well.
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Government, I wish to thank all our parliamentary colleagues for their contributions to this year’s debate. These are extraordinary times, Madam Speaker, as this government continues to steer the ship of state through the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.
The World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19 on January 30, 2020, and later declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As of June 10, 2021, more than 174 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 3.75 million confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.
Madam Speaker, as the Prime Minister pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on our country. We have lost just over 1,000 lives. Every life lost is one too many and I offer deepest condolences to all families, friends and colleagues who have lost loved ones.
The pandemic and the measures designed to tackle it have had dramatic effects on economic activity. The Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) projections are that the economy contracted by approximately 10.2% for the calendar year 2020 and 12% for fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.
This is the largest annual decline on record and was the first annual contraction since 2012. The economic decline in 2020/21 was driven by a massive 70% contraction in our tourist industry.
The pandemic has decimated our foreign exchange inflows from tourism which are projected to fall by 74% or US$2.5 billion in 2020/21. Again, this level of fallout is unprecedented in our history.
Madam Speaker, after performing phenomenally well on this Prime Minister Andrew Holness led administration’s 2016 Manifesto, we followed up with a 2020 Manifesto, setting out a clear way forward, as we continue to battle the pandemic.
Madam Speaker we are keen on recovering stronger, faster and better.
We are committed to ensuring an accountable government that promotes unity and partnership while faithfully serving all Jamaicans.
Madam Speaker, our focus is on the following: