Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN on Finance Audley Shaw has claimed that the Government has been irritating the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by having other countries lobby the multilateral on behalf of Jamaica.
"Stop diverting your efforts to ask foreign governments to lobby the IMF on your behalf," Shaw told the Portia Simpson Miller-led Govern-ment during his address to the Rotary Club of Kingston recently.
According to Shaw, the lobbying efforts has become the latest in a string of actions the Government has embarked on to avoid dealing with the issues necessary to ink an IMF agreement.
In giving unsolicited advice to the Government, Shaw said it should "stop going to foreign caucus within foreign government and asking those foreign caucuses to go to the IMF to lobby for a better deal."
"What the Government is seeking, is for governments to lobby the IMF, and asking for caucus to lobby the IMF, which I believe is irritating the IMF, quite frankly; instead of asking for a political solution to the problems that they face, they need to face the problems frontally and deal with them," Shaw added.
Asked by The Gleaner where he got the information about the Government enlisting the help of countries to lobby the IMF, Shaw said he is confident in his information but would not reveal his source.
The country is currently seeking to ink an agreement with the IMF, which is essential to unlocking budgetary support from development partners, as well as financing from the international capital markets.
These funding is currently unavailable to Jamaica.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips has said a trust deficit currently exist between Jamaica and the IMF because of the failure of the previous administration, in which Shaw served as finance minister, to carry out reforms which were agreed in the last programme.
While Jamaica had signed a 27-month standby arrangement with the IMF in February 2010, the programme went off track in late 2011, as reforms such as tax, pensions, and public-sector wages were never undertaken.
Shaw has rejected Phillips' argument of a trust deficit saying the issue is one of a management deficit on the part of the Government.
"We have to deal with that management deficit at Heroes Circle and we need to deal with that management deficit at Jamaica House," Shaw said in wicked jab at Phillips and Prime Minister Simpson Miller.
He added: "At the very heart of this issue is that we have a Cabinet that cannot agree on a set of policies and programme that they can go to the IMF with. That is the problem, that is what is causing all the hold-up."
Simpson Miller has denied that the Cabinet is divided on the approach to dealing with the IMF programme.
Meantime, the opposition spokes-man has predicted that interest rates and inflation will head skywards if the Government does not ink an agreement with the IMF soon.
He also predicted that the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar will continue especially with a shortage of US dollar in the market, the re-emergence of a black market, and a NIR which is below the internationally accepted benchmark.