Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Kingston:
“It has been a pleasure to visit Jamaica, which is also my first official visit to the Caribbean. I have had the privilege to meet the Most Hon. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, Hon. Minister Peter Phillips and Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter. Our discussions focused on the economic policy priorities and the outlook for the country. I commended the Prime Minister and authorities for their commitment to reform Jamaica’s economy and lay the foundation for inclusive growth, job creation and a more prosperous future for Jamaicans
“The economic outlook is improving. Compared to a year ago, growth has picked up, unemployment has declined, inflation has been brought under control, the current account deficit has shown an ongoing improvement, and reserves are starting to recover. Debt-to- GDP has firmly been put on a downward trajectory. Key reforms were implemented, in particular, the tax incentive legislation and the fiscal rule. But there are other major reforms that are still pending, including improving the collection of taxes, modernizing the public sector, and improving the business climate, and a prudent fiscal stance needs to be sustained.
“I also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the private sector, labor unions and opposition. I was impressed by the high degree of consensus and awareness on the need to reform Jamaica’s economy, manifest in the excellent work of the Economic Program Oversight Committee. This broad support for the reforms has been essential, and will need to be maintained to ensure continued progress and confidence build-up in the economy. Women leaders and I also discussed critical gender and economic challenges.
“Economic adjustment is painful in the short run. Many Jamaicans have experienced wage freezes, and are facing higher prices for food and other essentials. That is why the social safety net component of the program is so important. If Jamaica continues on the path of fundamental reform, the foundation for a better future will be put in place. We are deeply committed to working closely with Jamaica on achieving its economic goals.”