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IMF says programme not causing poverty in Jamaica

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 8:44 AMDebbie-Ann Wright, News Editor Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is disputing that there is a correlation between the Jamaica’s program with the Fund and increase in poverty rates in the country.

The issue was put to Director of the IMF’s Communications Department, Gerry Rice, during a press briefing yesterday.

One journalist noted that last year Jamaica paid more to the IMF than it received from the Fund.

Rice admitted that in 2014-2015 there were US$259 million in IMF disbursements to Jamaica and US$422 million in repayment to the Fund.

This resulted in a net outflow of 163 million US dollars to the IMF.

However, Rice said for 2015-2016 the direction of the net flow is the opposite with positive flows to the country projected at US$127 million and he said in 2017-2018 the net flows are projected at US$176 million.

Rice said while the Fund is concerned about the rate of poverty in Jamaica it is not correct to link it with the IMF programme.

He argued that in the aftermath of the recession, many countries have seen the percentage of their population under the poverty line increased.

He quoted World Bank figures indicating that the poverty rate around the world went from 9.9 in 2007 to almost 20 per cent in 2012.

And he said Jamaica’s poverty rate was one of the reasons the economic programme was put in place.

The IMF spokesman also explained that under the programme a floor has been set on social spending to protect the most vulnerable Jamaicans.

He said the poverty rate is expected to decrease over time as growth and confidence continues to increase in Jamaica.