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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says the Government’s approach in securing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is very serious and the discussions are advanced and ongoing.

Speaking at the first of a series of parish meetings aimed at providing the public with information on key aspects of national development held yesterday (Oct 17) at the Jose Marti Technical High School, Twickenham Park, the Prime Minister said: an agreement with the IMF was necessary in order to get support from the multilaterals and bilateral institutions, build business confidence and keep the economy stable. She underscored government’s commitment to the issues of tax reform, pension reform and public sector reform as part of such a programme.

Also speaking at the forum, Minister of Justice, Mark Golding, said the multilateral agency has accepted Jamaica’s medium term programme as a basis for negotiations on the related issues in the programme. 

He said “the talks are well advanced, and that the IMF has accepted the Government’s medium term programme which is a four year programme and the targets in it. What is now being sorted out are the other details as to how we will stick to the programme to which we are committing ourselves,” Minister Golding said.

On the matter of employment and job creation, the Prime Minister said while it was government’s intention to increase employment through initiatives like the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme, JEEP, “we will only be able to solve the unemployment issue when the economy begins to grow in a sustainable manner.”

Mrs Simpson Miller discussed the upward trend in certain crimes, particularly those being committed against women and children. The Prime Minister appealed for the support of the citizens and every sector in society to tackle the crime problem, adding: “You cannot have a female Prime Minister and feel that you must just abuse women and children. We are working seriously on several pieces of legislation to address the problem. ”

Turning to the current dengue outbreak, Mrs Simpson Miller appealed to the public to take the necessary precautions to rid their homes and

communities of the breeding sites of mosquitoes. Government, she said,

has stepped up its dengue public education programme, and there is increased fogging and treatment of a number of breeding sites for mosquitoes in communities across the country.

The forum also provided the members of the public who attended, an opportunity to air several local development concerns affecting community life in the parish of St. Catherine.