Above: Jamaica Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips
By the Caribbean Journal staff
An International Monetary Fund team will visit Jamaica “within three weeks,” according to Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips.
If those talks go well, a deal with the fund “would not be too far off,” he said.
The long-awaited deal with the IMF has been at the forefront of Jamaican politics for over a year. But Phillips said that Jamaica’s growth, which is projected to be the weakest in the Caribbean this year, will not come from “something that the IMF needs to impose on us.”
“It is something we need to do,” he said. “It is the responsibility of any independent country to take the decisions that will allow us to progress as a country.”
Phillips, who was speaking Thursday at a forum of the Social Development Commission, said Jamaica was entering a period of “immense prospect for growth in the country.”
He pointed to the addition of 2,00 new hotel rooms, a move to reduce the food import bill and a series of new agro parks on 8,000 acres.
In mid-January, Jamaica’s Cabinet signed off an a group of IMF measures, led by a programme of debt reduction.
Speaking on Thursday, Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the agreement would not by itself solve Jamaica’s economic problems.
“The solutions to Jamaica’s problems, our problem, do not lie anywhere else but among Jamaicans and Jamaicans in the Diaspora,” she said. “We will have to unite as one Jamaican family shaping the future together, to move this country forward.”