Despite the threat of global economic meltdown, due in part to the ongoing attempt to invade the Ukraine by the Russian Federation, which is already cutting production, the Turk and Caicos Islands Government says it intends to lower the unemployment rate.
The revelation was made by Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. E. Jay Saunders, as he presented the estimates of expenditure in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, May 3.
According to the finance minister, the current unemployment rate for the Turks and Caicos Islands is measured at 8 percent. However, he said his government plans to chip at least one percent from that number. He said the figure could be achieved using his administration’s mitigation measures.
“The country’s unemployment rate is now 8%, and through our government’s mitigation measures, we are projecting that it will to fall to 7% this year,” Saunders told the House of Assembly.
“From day one, the policies of this Administration have been designed to "build economic resilience, protect and develop our people, while supporting inclusive growth, sustainability, and security," he said further.
Saunders stated that despite the bumper economic year experienced by the Turks and Caicos Islands, government was mindful of the worldwide economic instability that could threaten the country’s equilibrium.
“There is no doubt that our government, and our country had a banner economic year – but notwithstanding the positive achievements and unprecedented economic gains, we are ever mindful of how the Global Economic Climate is affecting us,” Saunders said.
He pointed out that the the Russia/Ukraine conflict was the most significant battle in Europe since World War II, which he said was having significant negative effects on the world – including the TCI. He warned that the fallout would get worse before it gets better.
“Last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth projections for 2022 and 2023 to 3.6%. This represents drops of 0.8% for 2022, and 0.2% for 2023, from the forecasts published in January. The world Bank has also cut its global growth expectations for 2022 from 4.1% to 3.2%.
The effects of the Russia/Ukraine conflict are worsened by the global supply chain issues, which have resulted in increased energy and food prices.
“The United States, our largest trading partner, has reported that its inflation rate now stands at 8.5%,” he said.
On the matter of inflation, Saunders argued that the higher prices for basic items have pushed the average inflation for this fiscal year significantly beyond the 6% that was originally forecast.
“If the Russia/Ukraine conflict and the global supply chain problems continue for much longer, there is a high probability that global investors may become timid and pull back on their investments.
“If this happens, it will have an adverse effect on our Foreign Direct Investment flows,” he said.
He added: “Thankfully, and through the goodness of God, so far, the investment interest in our Beautiful by Nature Turks & Caicos Islands remains robust.
“Our government is closely monitoring developments and reactions of global markets and will make adjustments to our policies if it is deemed necessary.
“And as we have consistently done, we will ensure that the poor and vulnerable are protected from the worst effects of this crisis.”