Re-Building Confidence Critical – Finance Minister

Story Highlights

  • In terms of confidence in the economy, Dr. Phillips acknowledged that this “will take time to build.”
  • The economic programme will require sustained implementation over future quarters
  • Jamaican economy’s performance is being carefully analyzed

Steadfast commitment to implementation, and re-building confidence in the economy, are two factors deemed necessary for the success of Jamaica’s current economic programme and the country’s performance, under the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$932.3 million four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, and Head of the IMF’s Mission Team to Jamaica, Jan Kees Martijn, highlighted these factors, while addressing Thursday’s (August 22) joint media briefing at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston, where details of the country’s first quarterly performance review under the EFF (April to June),  were outlined.

In his remarks, Dr. Phillips said Jamaica’s future under the programme “really depends on us – the country”.

“There are many who did not believe that we would have concluded a programme (with the IMF) and, indeed, they were pleasantly surprised and satisfied with Jamaica’s fulfillment, not only of the prior conditions. I think we need to emphasize that they (prior conditions) were not easily achieved, but they were achieved with the sacrifice and contribution of stakeholders from all sectors in the country,” he said.

In terms of confidence in the economy, Dr. Phillips acknowledged that this “will take time to build.” While noting that “we are seeing signs of it already” he stated that “we are also seeing that there are those who remain to be convinced.”

“I don’t think that we will convince them by a lot of talk, necessarily. I think we will convince them as we proceed with implementation,” the Minister said.

Dr. Phillips said having recently concluded a series of discussions with holders of Jamaican government bonds in North America and in Europe, “I can say that we are seeing the slow but steady and significant re-building of this confidence, certainly, in the international community.”

He added, however, that the economic programme will require sustained implementation over future quarters in order to sustain a build-up in confidence.

The Finance Minister emphasized that this effort will also require that a more comprehensive communications endeavour be undertaken, both locally and internationally, to facilitate better understanding by persons of the programme’s rationale, while enabling them to take advantage of anticipated benefits.

“The successful conclusion of this first review will add to that level of confidence. So, what we have to do is sustain our commitment to the path and not lose heart or become overwhelmed by the immediate painful difficulties which we face,” Dr. Phillips said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Martijn noted that Jamaica’s current economic challenges did not occur, nor will they be solved overnight.

“The reason we have a four-year programme is because we know that there is a whole series of reforms in many areas…to be implemented. So, ongoing implementation (is important),” he said.

Mr. Martijn also noted that the Jamaican economy’s performance is being carefully analyzed.

“Investors are looking at the country. That return of confidence is…absolutely critical. The two are, of course, related, because with steadfast implementation, we believe that confidence will return and at that stage, the benefits of these (economic) reforms would become truly apparent,” he said.

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