London, Jan 5 (UiTV/IANS) – UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to halve inflation and boost the country’s economy in his first major speech of the new year.
In his speech on Wednesday, Sunak made five pledges — to halve inflation; to grow the economy; to reduce national debt; to cut hospital waiting lists; and to stop illegal migrant boats crossing the English Channel, reports Xinhua news agency.
Calling these the “people’s priorities”, Sunak vowed to “work night and day” to deliver for the British people.
He said his government will halve inflation this year to reduce the cost of living and give people financial security.
According to official figures, the UK’s annual inflation dipped to 10.7 per cent in November 2022 from 11.1 per cent the previous month.
Last November, the Bank of England (BoE) said it expected the country’s consumer price index (CPI) to drop sharply after the middle of 2023.
To grow the economy, Sunak pledged to create better-paid jobs and opportunities across the country. However, this may prove to be an uphill task.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2022.
The BoE also warned that the country’s economy is bound to remain in recession throughout 2023 and the first half of 2024, and GDP will recover only gradually thereafter.
Reducing public debt has always been a priority for Sunak’s fiscal policies since he took office in late October.
In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had announced a package of tax hikes and spending cuts in a bid to improve the public finances and restore the country’s economic credibility.
In Sunak’s fourth pledge, he promised that the waiting lists of the National Health Service (NHS) will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly.
According to the British Medical Association (BMA), in October 2022, a record 7.21 million people were waiting for medical treatment in the UK.
The Prime Minister also vowed to pass new laws to curb the arrival of migrants in “small boats”, on the country’s coast.
“If you come to this country illegally, you are detained and swiftly removed,” he said.
The Times newspaper cited official figures as showing that a record 45,756 migrants crossed the English Channel to the UK last year.
In his speech, Sunak also said that he plans to ensure that all pupils in the country study maths until the age of 18.
He said the UK was one of the few countries in the world not to require children to study maths in some form up to that age.
“Improving education is the closest thing to a silver bullet there is. It is the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy,” the Prime Minister added.