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IMF team arrives Wednesday for talks on future deal

Published:Tuesday | July 19, 2016 | 7:14 PM

 Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is due in Jamaica Wednesday to continue talks with Jamaican authorities on the future of a relationship after the current loan agreement ends next year.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw made the disclosure this afternoon in a statement to the House of Representatives.

Jamaica's four-year loan agreement which was signed in May 2013 will expire next year.

"What is the appropriate successor programme to follow the current one?" Shaw asked, while signalling his support for a future arrangement to involve some oversight from the IMF.

The finance minister says details on the talks will be shared later when decisions are made.

Jamaica entered the IMF deal when it was almost cut off from the international financial market and was in need of the IMF's approval to be able to access funding.

The debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of almost 150 per cent was a critical indicator of the institutionalised troubles of the local economy.

Jamaica accepted strict structural adjustment measures which have so far resulted in improvements in macro economic indicators and a lowering of the debt to GDP ratio by almost 30 per cent although there have been criticisms of being too harsh.

Shaw said he would no preempt the options that will be decided on after the agreement ends.

But Opposition Spokesman on Finance Dr Peter Phillips stressed that it is important that a future arrangement be worked out.

"It is a matter of substantial interest to the international community and to our own fortunes," Phillips said.

The Bank of Jamaica and the Economic Performance Oversight Committee are expected to be included in the post-IMF agreement talks.

Jamaica has passed all the tests under the current loan programme.