The International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal should lead us to be more prudent in how much we borrow and how well we spend those borrowings.
But that is not the main reason Jamaica's Government (GOJ) is trying so hard to secure the agreement.
If our leaders and citizens are wise, the pending IMF deal should cause us to develop rapidly a comprehensive growth strategy which we will implement with serious managerial skill and with a clear and quantified focus on results.
But that is not the main reason our Government is pressing to get the board of the IMF to approve the US$750-million financing to Jamaica - caveats and prior actions, conditionalities and all.
The real pressing reason Jamaica is so anxious to secure that IMF deal, in spite of the bitter and obnoxious prior actions and sovereignty-sapping conditions, is that it is only by signing with the IMF that we can get to the vitally important multilaterals to open up to us, once again, their relatively bulging wallets.
While much of our attention, rightly, has been on signing that still elusive IMF deal, Minister Peter Phillips and his team have been having seriously in-depth and important discussions with the key multilateral lending agencies to Jamaica such as the Inter-Development Bank, World Bank, the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
ALPHABET SOUP OF LENDERS
During the four years of the last Jamaica Labour Party Government, among the achievements former Minister of Finance Audley Shaw is fond of repeating is that he was able to bring in over US$3 billion from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank (IBRD), the EU and the CBD at very low interest rates.
Some was grant money and, therefore, no principal or interest repayment was necessary.
Of that US$3-billion figure, only about US$850 million was from the IMF. The upcoming IMF disbursement is expected to be US$100 million less.
Those numbers give perspective as to the importance of the multilateral lending agencies to Jamaica's economic future.
That financial importance is what prompted Minister Phillips to make public the GOJ's engagement with those lending agencies, in order to secure their agreement to disburse soon after the all-important IMF board approval is secured.
Jamaica needs their cash to support various public programmes and projects in education, lending to the poor, building our institutional infrastructure, investments in reforms, social investment and other modernisation activities.
GRANT, LOAN CHAMPIONS
The EU states on its website that it is Jamaica's largest grant partner giving us €70 million in funding - money we do not have to repay - over the last 30 years.
In addition, "Jamaica has been benefiting from €4,265 million in grants from the special Framework Assistance for Traditional ACP suppliers of Bananas, under the general budget of the EC."
Jamaica has also received more than €77 million under the EU-ACP sugar protocol between 2007 and 2010. The EU-EC has transferred a lot of their taxpayers' money to Jamaica.
The EU also gives non-cash assistance and has been particularly emphatic in helping Jamaica strengthen its democracy, expand its good governance practices, bolster the rights of children and help the country take measures to enhance its sanitary facilities.
The IDB loaned Jamaica more than US$1.481 billion in the last five years at very agreeably low interest rates. Some US$645 million went to pay for reform and modernisation of the State, US$100 million to education, US$101 million to social investment, US$123 million to transportation, us$90 million to private-sector development and US$422 million to unspecified others.
Clearly, these multilateral lenders, who must practise a great deal of transparency, take a great deal of interest in how we spend funds from their institutions.
They are often caught between their desire to help a country like Jamaica and the stench that bombards them from our corrupt practices, mismanagement, dithering and waste.
Occasionally, they see success that allows for positives in their reports back home.
WHOEVER PAYS THE PIPER
It is reported that the JLP administration had to conform to a 25-page compliance matrix from the multilateral lenders. Shaw claims that the administration was 95 per cent compliant.
Obviously, there must have been some pretty important items in the five per cent non-compliance list, because that list must have had some bearing on Jamaica failing some of its quarterly IMF tests.
No doubt, Dr Phillips is being put through the wringer of multilateral scepticism because of the non-compliance or failure on the part of the JLP administration to meet what are now called prior actions commitments.
The "contingent discussions" which Minister Phillips referred to in Parliament earlier this week as taking place between the GOJ and the multilateral lenders may simply mean that, like the IMF - and no doubt after consultations with the Fund - these lenders are also making sure the GOJ has little wiggle room when it comes to future compliance.
Prior actions are very likely on the table and could push back the approval date of the agreement. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
We in Jamaica have to learn that we cannot borrow indefinitely with the intention not to repay from our earnings.
We have to learn to produce and increase productivity in order to repay our debts.
This time, the multilateral lenders must insist on calling a better productivity and compliance tune from their borrower-client, Jamaica.
Aubyn Hill is the CEO of Corporate Strategies Limited and was an international banker for more than 25 years.Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @HillAubynFacebook: facebook.com/ Corporate.Strategies