A team from the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund ended a fiveday visit to Jamaica today. In line with the requests made by the Minister of Finance and Planning Honourable Dr. Peter Phillips, the mission updated their assessment of the Jamaican economy. In that context, the mission shared with the authorities concerns about the vulnerabilities of the Jamaican economy, against the background of higher risks from lower growth in the world economy as well as in the face of current realities in Jamaica; including a reduction in the primary surplus of the central government that was targeted for this fiscal year and a rise of the overall deficit of the public sector. Based on current projections, the primary surplus would be some 1.5 percent of GDP below what was targeted in the Budget. This is an unsustainable position that would lead to a worsening of our already burdensome national debt.
In that context, the Fund was given a clear exposition on the priorities of the new government and its commitment to pursue strong policies that would enable Jamaica to address the risks posed by both the global environment and the worsening fiscal realities. To this end, the Government is working on a set of economic policies that will be considered by Cabinet shortly.
Discussion with the IMF will continue with a full mission set for late February.
The Government of Jamaica is of the view that an effective programme with the IMF as well as robust partnerships with other international financial institutions is an essential element in maintaining confidence domestically and internationally while undertaking the necessary economic reforms. The IMF team reiterated their willingness to support the authorities in the pursuit of macroeconomic stability, sustainable growth and job creation.