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Not a big deal... IMF says Ja should pass eighth revew despite missed primary surplus target

Published:Tuesday | May 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Despite a $4-billion shortfall in the nominal primary surplus target under the extended fund facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Fund’s staff team, which reviewed Jamaica’s performance, is to recommend to the Executive Board that Jamaica’s eighth review be approved.

If approval is granted after the board considers Jamaica’s performance next month, it would pave the way for the disbursement of US$40 million to the country.

New IMF chief of missions to Jamaica, Uma Ramakrishnan, says the missing of the nominal primary surplus target is not a big deal.

Jamaica missed the nominal primary surplus target of $121 billion by $4 billion in the eighth review period up to March, but achieved the stipulated 7.5 per cent target.

The primary surplus is the difference between government spending (excluding interest payments) and tax revenues. 

"I would like to put at rest this issue that is of concern to many of you. I think it has been a bigger concern for people in Jamaica than it is really for us," Ramakrishan said.

Addressing a press conference held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning at National Heroes Circle in Kingston, Ramakrishnan said that the "central focus of the programme is really the 7.5 per cent primary surplus."

"Minor deviations happen and that is how we see this revenue performance target. As long as the critical programme remains, which we think is the case for Jamaica, we have in place a procedure which we follow to go ahead with the completion of the review without delay on time to keep things on schedule and on track," she added.