The Government has received positive feedback from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on its progress in implementing measures outlined under the country’s economic programme, supported by an IMF four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
Head of the IMF Staff Mission Team, which piloted the negotiations with the administration, Jan Kees Martijn, said they are “encouraged” by the “steady progress” being made, while addressing journalists at Tuesday’s (May 21) media briefing at the Ministry of Finance and Planning, National Heroes Circle, in Kingston.
His comments were in reference to several prior and current actions taken by the administration, which Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, reiterated in his presentation at the briefing, which was held to provide an update on what Mr. Martijn described as a week-long “routine visit” by the Mission to Jamaica, for follow-up talks with Government officials.
The measures, Dr. Phillips outlined, include: tabling of the 2013/14 budget, which is consistent with the primary balance surplus target of 7.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP); enactment of legislation, including measures for harmonized tax treatment for charities across the various tax types; and removal of ministerial discretion to grant waivers.
“We have sought to ensure that all the quantitative performance criteria and the structural benchmark are, in fact, being met,” the Minister said.
In addition, Dr. Phillips said the Economic Programme Oversight Committee “that we are committed to,” has been established, and the members, who include representatives of the private sector and the wider civil society, have met.
“We have been very steadfast in implementing the programme. We (Ministry and IMF) have had a far reaching exchange of views over this past week…as they have sought to secure the necessary information about our situation. We look forward to continuing close co-operation, not only with the Fund, but with our other international development partners, as we move this programme, for the economic transformation of Jamaica, forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Martijn said these developments are indicative of a “strong resolve” by the administration to implement the programme, which he described as “critical,” against the background of the serious challenges to be overcome by the country.
On May 1, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, in the amount of US$932.3 million. Some US$207.2 million of this sum has already been disbursed to Jamaica, of which US$87.9 million represents budgetary support for the government’s comprehensive economic reform agenda.
Noting that the IMF’s first quarter review for Jamaica is not due until August, Mr. Martijn pointed out that the team did not only want to visit for formal discussions on the programme’s implementation and to “set targets and check targets”.
“It’s also important for us to have a good understanding, to be updated, to know what’s going on. Our last visit was in February, when we had the Staff Level Agreement on the Programme. That would be quite a long time between that visit and a next official visit (in August) to review the programme. So, to bridge that gap and to make sure that we remain informed, we decided to have this visit,” he said
Explaining that Jamaica’s economic programme provides a “road map” for addressing the “longstanding problems of high debt and low growth,” Mr. Martijn assured that “we (IMF) strongly support the government in implementing their programme, and we stand ready to help them in further strengthening it and refining it, over time.”
Contact: Douglas McIntosh