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The Net International Reserves (NIR), of just over US$1.70 billion, is being augmented and should return to an estimated US$1.78 billion by the end of November, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has said.
During a teleconference with local and international investors, today (November 25), the Minister explained that a raft of monetary and fiscal interventions are being implemented, financial stability is being maintained, and tourism promotion by both the private and public sectors, has intensified.
He said that to further stimulate the tourist industry, on Monday, December 1, Cabinet is expected to approve the policy governing casino gaming, as at least one major project is on hold, pending the decision and approval by Parliament.
This was the Finance Ministry’s third in the series of international teleconference calls, involving local and international investors with a stake in Jamaica’s economy.
Following his national broadcast on November 23, Mr. Shaw advised participants in this morning’s teleconference, that although the Bank of Jamaica’s NIR was currently at just over US$1.70 billion, the fund was being augmented by multilateral loans. “There is no expectation that the NIR will go below US$1.7 billion by the end of the year,” he said.
The Minister’s statement was reinforced by the Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Derek Latibeaudiere, a member of the technical team participating in the discussion.
According to the Central Bank Governor, not only is the NIR in a healthy state, but it reflects the level as at December 2007, a period that was not subjected to the challenges presented by the current financial turbulence in the international capital markets and the tightening of external credit.
Asked about the possibility of Jamaica resuming a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Minister explained that although Jamaica currently enjoys a positive standing with the Fund and other multilaterals, there is no immediate plans to seek IMF loan support. “The current status of the country’s balance of payments does not warrant such a measure,” Mr. Shaw said.
The Minister pointed out that in addition to the measures outlined in his national broadcast, a mix of immediate interventions and contingency arrangements are being implemented. These include: consolidation of statutory deductions; revenue enhancement and the enforcement of customs regulations, with stiffer fines and penalties to combat breaches; the divestment of some entities, such as the Sugar Company of Jamaica and Air Jamaica; revised procurement policies; and new fiscal legislation.
Mr. Shaw was also supported at the teleconference by Financial Secretary, Sharon Crooks; Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes, as well as senior technical officers of the Ministry and selected agencies.
More than 60 persons, including institutional investors, and representatives of the financial services sector and rating agencies from Jamaica and across the globe, participated.