Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
CONTINGENT TALKS between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank are said to be the reason Jamaica has not yet submitted its programme to the board of the IMF for consideration.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the talks have a direct relationship to the Government's liability management programme.
The minister said the liability management programme involves buying back high coupon debt and possibly retiring that debt and the reissuing of lower interest debt.
He said, however, that a debt exchange on external debts is not being contemplated at this time.
"As of now, we have no active plan that is focused on any disturbance in the external debt portfolio that the Government of Jamaica presently possesses," Phillips said in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The minister was responding to questions from Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw.
Phillips said the talks between the IMF and other multilaterals have a direct relationship to the question of a liability management programme on the external portion of the debt.
Jamaica and the IMF in February reached a staff-level agreement on the key elements of an economic programme that can be supported by a 48-month arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), in the amount of US$750 million.
At the time of announcing the staff-level agreement, the IMF said it envisages that the IMF's executive board would consider the proposed arrangement under the EFF by the end of March, subject to the timely completion of prior actions to be taken by the Jamaican Government and obtaining necessary financing assurances.
Phillips on Tuesday sought to explain why Jamaica has not yet submitted its programme to the IMF.
"There are some contingent discussions that are now taking place between the Fund, that is to say the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, regarding the extent of the commitments from each institution in support of the Fund programme," Phillips said.
He added: "The specific submission of the programme to the IMF board will await the outcome of this discussions taking place this week in Washington .... It is still possible, and we do expect that the soonest possible date will be forthcoming and, indeed, it remains possible before the end of March.
"But it is important, because those institutions, as you understand, are required to make substantial commitments in support of the programme, in addition to other institutions."
Jamaica's public debt is set to reach $1.8 trillion at the end of this fiscal year or 134 per cent of GDP, a fiscal policy paper interim report tabled in Parliament recently said.