IMF Executive Board Concludes Eighth Review under the Extended Fund Facility with Jamaica and Approves US$39.8 Million Disbursement

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The FINANCIAL — The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 16 completed the eighth review of Jamaica’s economic performance under a program supported by a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of SDR 615.38 million (about US$932.3 million at the time of approval).

The completion of the review enables the disbursement of SDR 28.32 million (about US$39.8 million). The four-year EFF arrangement with Jamaica was approved by the IMF’s Executive Board on May 1, 2013 (see Press Release 13/150). The Board’s decision on the eighth review was taken on a lapse of time basis.

Jamaica’s economic performance under the authorities’ economic program is on track and has remained strong. All performance criteria for end-March 2015 were met, with the exception of the central government primary balance criterion, which was narrowly missed. Structural reforms have advanced broadly in line with the program, according to IMF.

Half-way into the authorities’ four-year reform program, investment and growth prospects are gradually improving. Growth is projected to approach 2 percent in 2015/16, as the full impact of lower oil import costs and the recovery from last year’s drought materialize, and as the improved business climate and confidence feed economic activity. Lower oil prices have improved the current account and, combined with prudent monetary policy, reduced inflation to its lowest point in nearly 50 years.

Continued proactive implementation of the government’s growth strategy will be critical to improve Jamaica’s economic growth and job opportunities. To foster sustainably lower electricity costs, scheduled investments in new power plants need to proceed without delay. Improving access to credit by small and medium-sized enterprises will improve financial inclusion and support private investment. The recent welcome shift to a more accommodative monetary policy stance should support the expansion of private credit and economic growth. Further loosening hinges on the responses of international capital flows and the inflation trend. Continued focus on strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework of the financial sector remains essential for stability. Fiscal sustainability relies on fundamental reform to bolster tax compliance and constrain the growth of current spending. This calls for improvements in revenue administration and a sustainable reduction in the public sector wage bill through fundamental civil service reform. Improvements in public financial management are also important to raise the efficiency of public spending.

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