Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday stayed away from saying whether there is a plan B in case the current deal being sought with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fails to materialise.
The country is hoping for a new IMF programme which could unlock budgetary support from development partners as well as financing from the international capital markets, which is currently unavailable to Jamaica.
The Simpson Miller Cabinet had a three-day retreat last week at which the matter of the IMF was discussed.
Simpson Miller said Cabinet signed off on elements of fiscal consolidation which were arrived at by Jamaica's negotiating team and the IMF.
"The Cabinet is united in its commitment to take bold actions and do whatever is necessary and prudent to arrive at an agreement that is in the best interest of Jamaica, given our particular circumstances," Simpson Miller said.
She, however, shied away from saying whether Jamaica has other options if the IMF door is shut on the country.
"We could not give you that now because we are still negotiating. We do work on, the Ministry of Finance and the team were mandated, they have worked on that, but we cannot speak to it now," Simpson Miller said.
She added: "Negotiations are still taking place. At the conclusion, we will look at whether we are getting a package that, while we have to feel some pain ... will benefit Jamaica or, whether we have a different kind of thinking based on what we will receive."
Don't say there is a plan B
The prime minister was at pains to point out that it should not be said that Jamaica currently has a plan B to the IMF.
"Do not go out there and say the prime minister of Jamaica says there is a plan B. Where we are is delicately poised, so we are awaiting some conclusions before we can definitively speak to certain aspects of things that you asked," Simpson Miller said.
In the meantime, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said the Cabinet at its retreat unanimously signed off on measures required to advance the negotiations with the IMF toward a satisfactory conclusion. He said the technical negotiating team was now able to return to the bargaining table for the final round of negotiations.
Phillips said the measures required to put Jamaica on track are going to be painful.
"There is no way that is going to call euphoria to do what needs to be done. It is a choice between very difficult sets of alternatives but the future of the country requires that we make these choices," Phillips said.
Similarly, Simpson Miller said "we all have to make some sacrifices".
"We are with the IMF but the IMF is not all means to the solutions of Jamaica's problems. It is us as Jamaicans that will have to work together, in unity, to move this country forward," she said.