The key task of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) resident representative in Jamaica at this time is to support and try to ensure the existing four-year lending arrangement is successful.
However, Dr Bert van Selm, the current resident representative who took up duties in Kingston in July, said the post is not reserved only for countries which have existing borrowing arrangements with the Fund.
The IMF has resident representative offices in many of its member countries, and they serve a number of functions, related not only to lending, but also to Fund surveillance, that is, keeping track of economic trends and advising members on macroeconomic policies, van Selm said in emailed responses to Wednesday Business queries.
"There are offices in countries that borrow from the Fund, in advanced countries (in particular in Europe, for example in Greece and in Portugal), in emerging markets, as well as in many low-income countries around the world," he said.
But there are also resident representative offices in countries such as Russia, India, China and Nigeria that have not borrowed from the Fund in decades," said van Selm, adding that those offices focus on surveillance activities.
In Jamaica, given that a new four-year lending arrangement with the IMF was approved in May, "the key task of the IMF resident representative is to support that programme and try to ensure that it is successful," he said. "I can build on my experience here, as I have worked on Fund programmes for a decade and a half in countries in Europe, Africa and Asia," the resident representative said.
"With the help of the local IMF office, the 'resrep' can facilitate relations between the IMF team in Washington and the authorities and other stakeholders in Jamaica in many ways," van Selm explained.
Those range from the very practical such as planning for IMF visits and meetings to maintaining a policy dialogue in between the team's visits, and building support for the programme via public events and other outreach activities.
KEEPING CLOSE TRACK
"An important part of the job is also to keep close track of economic developments to ensure that the programme is indeed achieving its goals. The main goal of Jamaica's IMF programme is to create the conditions for sustained growth through a significant improvement in the fiscal and debt positions and in competitiveness," he said.
The post of resident representative in Jamaica was closed in August 1997 and reopened in May 2010. It followed the February 4, 2010 IMF executive board approval of a 27-month standby agreement in the amount equivalent to SDR 820.5 million (about US$1.27 billion), for which the third review was completed on January 14, 2011 after which the programme went off track.
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