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IMF says Jamaica's unemployment rate needs to fall and growth increased

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sent a warning to the Jamaican government that the unemployment rate needs to decrease even as other economic indicators are heading in favourable directions. 

The IMF issued the warning yesterday in a release advising that the fund's Executive Board approved the ninth review of Jamaica's economic performance under the four-year loan agreement. 

The approval allows Jamaica to access an additional US$39.7 million as part of the agreement. 

The IMF's deputy managing director, Min Zhu said the authorities remain firmly committed to the economic program.

He also says the program is on track and structural reforms have progressed broadly on schedule.

However, he stressed that growth remains weak and unemployment needs to decrease further.

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Min noted that sustained efforts in structural reforms, including reducing energy costs, improving the business environment, and developing critical infrastructure, should help boost investment and growth.

In August, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica reported a marginal dip in the unemployment rate as at April this year when compared to the similar period last year. 

The .4 per cent decrease was enough to push the jobless rate to a five-year low of 13.2 per cent compared to 13.6 per cent in April 2014.

The Opposition and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica have expressed concerns over the unemployment rate and called for the government to do more to boost growth 

Meanwhile, the IMF official says it is essential to move forward with public sector reforms, including those relating to public financial management, to improve the efficiency of government services.

Min says it is also important to continue strengthening fiscal revenue by reforming customs and tax administration and broadening the tax base.