In Jamaica until the end of the week to continue discussions with the Government, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief Jan Kees Martijn told the gathering that ideally Jamaica needs to reduce its public debt to less than 60 per cent of gross domestic product if the country is to start realising growth and create opportunities for employment.
"It is clear that Jamaica's persistent problem of high debt and low growth has to come to an end. It has to start from as early as now and move down as fast as possible, to be credible and instil confidence," said Martijn as he addressed business interests present for the launch of the National Debt Exchange at the Bank of Jamaica Auditorium in downtown Kingston yesterday.
He said Jamaica's unsustainable public debt undermines economic confidence, has elevated risk to economic stability, reduces international competitiveness and greatly impairs the Government's potential to provide the services needed to achieve higher rates of growth and increase welfare for the citizens of Jamaica.
Ready to assist
Lauding the debt exchange as an important step in addressing the country's fiscal challenges, Martijn said the IMF stands ready to assist with that process.
He said Jamaica and the IMF were making good progress in finalising the new deal.
Pamela McLaren, senior director, debt management, in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, told the group that without 100 per cent participation there would be no IMF deal.
"No National Debt Exchange, no IMF programme, that's the simple truth," she emphasised.
Following yesterday's launch, stakeholders have until February 21 to accept the terms of the National Debt Exchange, which the Government plans to settle by the following day.