From left: IMF Caribbean Regional
Director Luis Breuer, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter; and Dr Gladstone
Hutchinson, PIOJ Director General. (JIS Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The International Monetary Fund concluded its visit to Jamaica today, saying it was “committed to working closely with Jamaican authorities “as they address the challenges facing the country.”
According to the IMF, its team and the Jamaican government have a concurring view on “the key challenges facing Jamaica, arising from the high public debt and low economic growth, and agree on the need for a strong policy response,” according to a statement issued by Luis Breuer, the IMF’s mission chief for Jamaica.
The IMF’s team met with Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter, Financial Secretary Wesley Hughes, Planning Institute of Jamaica Director General Gladstone Hutchinson and senior officials, among others.
The statement said that the Jamaican government had indicated it was working on the early implementation of a set of policies aimed at placing the GDP ratio on a “decisive downward path, while stimulating growth and job creation in a sustainable way.”
The five-day talks resulted in greater understanding of the government’s priorities, Phillips said.
“We recognized that there has been a worsened economic situation in the medium term, which has increased significantly Jamaica’s vulnerability to economic shocks,” Phillips said at a press conference. “We have agreed that these problems need to be addressed urgently and we have mapped plans for continuing discussions with the IMF Mission, with a view to ultimately begin negotiations in the not-too-distant future, and concluding, as best we can, a set of understandings and an agreement [for] a programme.”
The discussion focused on the reduction in the primary surplus of the government and a rise in the overall deficit of the public sector.
The IMF said talks would continue in February; this will likely take place in Washington, DC, according to Phillips.