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Jamaicans urged to look to Latvia

Published:Monday | December 23, 2019 | 12:16 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

The Year 2019 was an exceptional year for Jamaica-Latvia bilateral relations, and Dean of the Consular Corps Robert Scott is looking to build on that goodwill with the launch of the Republic of Latvia’s Mentor Training Programme to improve the lives of at least 200 at-risk adolescents.

Scott, who is also honorary consul to the Republic of Latvia, used the awards for the ninth Latvian Independence Regatta at the Royal Yacht Club, Port Royal, to appeal to others to join his crusade to improve the lot of at-risk youth.

“We live in a city that in the Kingston South Division alone, there are 60 gangs responsible for much of the mayhem. The notoriety and fame of these gangs provide a stream of new recruits that contribute to the problem that we are having nationally,” he said.

“I believe that there is a contribution that can be made by well-thinking persons like us assembled here if we have the will and the tools– the will to help to improve the collective good of this nation we call our home based on your own moral compass.”

Scott explained that the aim is to engage a network of volunteers to guide the youngsters using a four-step process, details of which are shared on the consul’s website. The volunteers will be brought together through a WhatsApp group.

“We will work out the details and work with the communities going forward, and I look forward to your support for what is proposed to be a life-altering initiative for many Jamaicans,” he added.

Scott then went on to disclose that Latvia’s economy is thriving and that several areas of technical cooperation, such as with the National Water Commission, had been explored.

Upward growth trend

He noted that Latvia’s growth rate for 2018 was 4.8 per cent, with projections for 2019 and 2020 at three per cent, with income convergence continuing, albeit at a slower pace than before 2008.

He added that the per capita gross domestic product in Latvia was US$18,000, the labour market was tight as unemployment fell to the lowest mark of seven per cent in 10 years, with vacancies rising fast. Wage growth has been strong at eight per cent, supporting housing purchasing power. However, inflation has consistently averaged 3.14 per cent for the past few years.

He pointed out that Latvian exporters have also remained competitive, and the macro-economy appears balanced overall, with inflation, public debt, and deficit under control.

“Financial markets look stable, sustained by sound macro-prudential polices, and anti-money laundering efforts have stepped up, and Latvian laws now ban the establishment of certain types of shell companies and saw the reduction, by 60 per cent, of non-national deposits to reduce the risks and have begun work with international bodies and consultants to further tighten the regulatory and supervisory framework. In short, the economy is in an enviable position.”