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Jamaica’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Mr. Gerard Johnson, has said the Government is worthy of congratulations, for its success in the recent debt exchange programme.
“Your debt exchange is not just unprecedented in its success in Jamaica, but in the world. I understand that this is the most successful voluntary debt swap ever. I think you’re over 97 per cent and counting,” Mr. Johnson said.
He was speaking during the official signing for three policy-based loans totalling US$170 million (J$15.2 billion) from the IDB to the Jamaican Government. The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in Kingston, on February 18.
The loans, according to Finance and the Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, are to provide financial support for institutional and policy changes relevant to the government’s reform programmes.
Mr. Johnson further commended the government on its recent upgrade by rating agency, Fitch Ratings, which raised Jamaica’s long-term local and foreign currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to B minus.
He said the IDB was also pleased to be the first multilateral agency to be granting a loan to Jamaica, since the recent approval of the US$1.27 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) Stand-By Arrangement.
Multilateral funding from the IDB and other multilateral institutions were put on hold pending the IMF agreement. Minister Shaw said now that the agreement has been finalized, it has opened up the avenue for the promulgation of loans with other multilateral agencies, such as the IDB.
Mr. Johnson argued that the IDB granting Jamaica a budget support loan also spoke to the institution’s confidence in Jamaica and was “really a vote of confidence in the Government’s policies.”
“Most of the times we disburse loans for investment projects, roads, schools, irrigation schemes, specific investments; these loans are unusual,” he said.
“Budget support loans speak to a level of confidence, not just in the macro-economic context, that’s a necessary condition, but not sufficient. These loans are not disbursed only because of the agreement with the IMF, they’re being disbursed from a development point of view, something that may be even more important,” he added.
Mr. Johnson assured that the Jamaican Government can continue to rely on the IDB for support.