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KINGSTON — Minister of Finance, Hon. Audley Shaw, says he will meet with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) new Mission Chief, Luis Breuer on Wednesday July 13, 2011, to discuss all outstanding issues to be considered by the IMF Board for the December and March quarter reviews.

He was speaking today at the official launch of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) operations in Jamaica, which will replace the RBTT brand, at the Bank’s Dominica Drive headquarters in Kingston.

Mr. Breuer will be making his first visit to Jamaica in his capacity as Mission Chief.

Minister Shaw noted that the IMF fourth and fifth quarter reviews had been delayed in part due to the now concluded salary negotiations with the public sector.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister pointed out that the economic stability now being experienced is as a result of the Government’s commitment to a new, higher level of fiscal responsibility, which include legislation, and new levels of transparency in Parliament.

He noted also, the intense scrutiny of the budgets of public bodies, which in the past, often overran expenditure and became a liability to the Government.

Mr. Shaw said the new phase of economic stability sets the foundation for growth to begin once again, noting some of the important signs that have emerged such as the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) 30-day open market operations interest rates, which as of Friday (July 9), stands at 6.5 per cent, down from 6.75 per cent, representing a 30-year low.

In addition, he said, inflation is “well under control” and the exchange rate is not only holding, but had seen a modest five per cent appreciation during the past year.

Minister Shaw further pointed out that the Net International Reserve (NIR) is “healthy”, adding that part of the resources obtained from the IMF had been intended to serve as a “cushion” had there been any negative effects due to the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX).

However, he pointed out that with a 99.2 per cent voluntary participation rate, “we have not had to use one penny out of the US$700 million that we had set aside…we are now contemplating, along with the Bank of Jamaica, whether we should send back some of the money to the IMF, because of the cost to keep that money at the Bank of Jamaica”.

Mr. Shaw told the gathering of financial sector stakeholders that for the first time in 14 consecutive quarters, the country saw economic growth of 1.4 per cent for the quarter ending March.

“We fully expect that there will be a commensurate, if not equal rate of economic growth for the June quarter… combined with a tempering of food prices on the global market as well as the moderation of oil prices, we can conclude that we are stable, and we are poised for economic takeoff,” he stated.

 

By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter

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