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IMF rep says Jamaica's high crime rate is a major impediment

Published:Sunday | April 9, 2017 | 5:10 PMTamara Bailey

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) country representative says crime continues to be a major impediment to Jamaica's economic stability.

"You cannot fix anything in Jamaica until you have fixed crime," Dr Constant Lonkeng Ngouana told attendees at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards yesterday evening.

He, however, expressed optimism about the government's increased focus on economic growth and job creation. The IMF representative also said measures aimed at improving national security and citizen safety will go a far way in bringing stability to the country's economic and social health.

Commenting on the recent increases to property valuations and the resulting increases in taxes due, Ngouana said that they were necessary. 

He however added: "Of course no sharp increase is welcomed and Jamaica should think about strategies to smooth those type of increase going forward... ." 

"Property tax is clearly a very progressive tax because those who earn the most will be hurt the most," the IMF representative added as he commented on the sharp public outcry to the revised property tax rates announced by the government.

Turning to other areas that need attention, Ngouana said the operations of the Bank of Jamaica also need to be modernised in line with the economic reform currently being undertaken by the government.

"One of the objectives of the Bank of Jamaica is to move towards what is called inflation targeting," he said, explaining that "this means the bank will reassure the public that whatever the increase, it will be that and no more. It also means that you don't have to focus on the exchange rate as the end result..."

Meanwhile, several businesses in Manchester were awarded at the function.

Price Cell Limited was awarded for Entrepreneurship while NCB Foundation got the award for Community Impact.

Jamaica Money Market Brokers Ltd (JMMB) walked away with the award for Customer Service, Pioneer Chocolate Limited recognised as the Premiere Family Business and the Business of the Year award went to Sutherland Global.

The Manchester Police, Knutsford Express, Restaurants of Jamaica, Three Angels Pharmacy and Golf View Hotel were also recognised.