- World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, Sophie Sirtaine has hailed the Government of Jamaica’s ‘strong commitment’ to the Economic Reform Programme.
- Ms. Sirtaine said economic reform for the country was not an easy one due to vulnerability to disasters and economic shock.
- However, she said economic indicators are heading in the right direction.
World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, Sophie Sirtaine has hailed the Government of Jamaica’s ‘strong commitment’ to the Economic Reform Programme.
Ms. Sirtaine, who was addressing journalists at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on May 6, said economic reform for the country was not an easy one due to vulnerability to disasters and economic shock.
However, she said economic indicators are heading in the right direction. “We’ve seen very significant progress in terms of reforms and we’ve seen macro indicators starting to also respond as well to market sentiment,” she said.
The Country Director added that the World Bank continues to provide technical assistance support and monitoring for Government’s implementation of critical reforms.
“We are in the process of establishing a joint business plan with the Government, with milestones to monitor progress on critical reforms. We plan to use this to cross- correct, and address delays and obstacles going forward,” she informed.
The government’s economic reform programme seeks to reduce the public debt, achieve macro-ecnomic stability, improve productivity, and enhance investor confidence.
Meanwhile World Bank representative to Jamaica, Giorgio Valentini said with the successful passing of the first three reviews under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), focus must now be placed on the long term efforts and the remaining three years of the agreement.
He said great potential lies in the development of the Logistics hub and the country should now take advantage of the commercial value presented by this opportunity.
Last month the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed a new four-year Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Jamaica valued at US$510 million. The CPS is focused on creating the conditions for growth and prosperity for all Jamaicans.
Half of the funds will go towards budgetary support and the remainder reserved for projects that will support investments in line with the goals of ending extreme poverty and facilitating prosperity.
Ms. Sirtaine, said the CPS is concentrated in the three main areas of: public sector modernization; enabling environment for private sector growth; and building social and climate resilience.
These areas she says, aligns with the Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan, and forms part of the intended reforms under the EFF. It will among other things, support the reform of the public pension system, the logistics hub initiative, agribusiness and other social programmes.
Two of the main areas that will be targeted in the new CPS are innovation and entrepreneurship.
Meanwhile, Ms. Siratine noted that in June, Jamaica will become one of two regional centres for the Caribbean-wide programme, Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC).
The EPIC supports new start-ups and innovation “especially with regard to climate change or mobile apps and provide fundamentally mentorship support, Diaspora networking connections but most importantly financing,” she said.
Additionally Ms. Siratine said focus will be placed on supporting the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) and the Steps to Work initiative.
“So we are really trying to go beyond supporting people that are in extreme poverty but really trying to bring them back to the market and give them long term employability,” she added.
Under the CPS support will also be provided for a community development project targetting the poorest and most violent neighbourhoods in Jamaica, as well as early childhood education and the creative industries.
It also seeks to increase the number of households with access to water, electricity and regular solid waste collection.