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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The projection is based on the progress which the Government has made to date, in implementing Jamaica’s economic reform programme (ERP).
  • Mr. Byles commented on the significance of a second consecutive quarter of economic growth.
  • Since the signing of the IMF agreement, international credit rating firm, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), has upgraded Jamaica’s status from Triple C+ to B-.

Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, says there are indications that Jamaica recorded economic growth during the third quarter of the current fiscal year.

This, he says, is based on the progress which the Government has made to date, in implementing Jamaica’s economic reform programme (ERP), which is consistent with targets agreed on with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), under the current four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Speaking at the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Breakfast, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on January 22, Mr. Byles said the outturn for the third quarter (October to December), “looks pretty good.”

“I think we will meet the revenue target for the primary balance and we know that we have met the Net International Reserves (NIR) target.  So, I think the third quarter results will be okay,” Mr. Byles noted.

Citing the 0.5 per cent growth Jamaica recorded during the July to September quarter, Mr. Byles, who is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Life Insurance Company, commented on the significance of a second consecutive quarter of economic growth.

“For us to have two quarters in a row of positive growth, since we signed the agreement…I think this is a great improvement. My understanding is that growth should be a little stronger than (the second quarter),” he added.

Mr. Byles pointed out that “some very tough actions” which the Government has had to take, consistent with IMF stipulations, have resulted in Jamaica passing the first two quarterly tests under the EFF, adding that “we have 14 more to go in this four-year agreement.”

He informed that since the signing of the IMF agreement, international credit rating firm, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), has upgraded Jamaica’s status from Triple C+ to B-, and that while this represents an improvement, “we shouldn’t be (overly) elated,” as this rating is still below where Jamaica needs to be.

“I don’t expect that S&P will look back at us for another upgrade this year. I think they want to just sit and watch to see whether we will execute all of the requirements of the Fund and whether we can engender some growth in the economy,” he argued.

Mr. Byles noted that another agency, Moody’s, has not changed its B3 rating of Jamaica, which it ascribed prior to the signing of the IMF agreement.

“(They) are likely to do so this year, and we hope we will get a good upgrade from them, and very importantly, to have the positive outlook attached to that rating,” he said.