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World Bank official: Jamaica learning from mistakes

Published:Monday | March 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The World Bank has pronounced that at long last, Jamaica appears to have learnt its lesson from the mistakes of the past and is now forging ahead to economic recovery.

"At this particular point in time, I am not saying Jamaica's progress is moving too slowly," said Aloysius Uche Ordu, the director of operations, policy and quality at the World Bank, late yesterday in an interview with The Gleaner.

"There is recognition of the lessons of the past and a determination to move forward with the right policies and to address the main challenges the country is facing," he added, echoing the sentiments of Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Peter Phillips.

Ordu was supported by Fabio Pittaluga, World Bank Digital Jam team leader.

"What we have seen in the past few months are very concrete, and not a lot of talk," Pittaluga told The Gleaner.

Ordu said that since the World Bank was introduced to Jamaica in the 1980s, the country has been challenged by changing policies.

"If you go back to 1982, we have had a relationship with Jamaica, and there have been all kinds of swings and roundabouts in terms of economic policies," he asserted.

Citing Jamaica's ballooning debt as the biggest challenge from his vantage point, Ordu said that although many persons have joined the middle class, crime and violence remains one of the mountains to be moved.

"And then, of course, youth unemployment is a big deal," said Ordu.

Set for recovery

He said it was safe to say Jamaica was seriously on a targeted path of economic recovery when the history of the last 30 years is examined.

"If you take the first 20 years of that 30 years, clearly there were challenges."

"In the recent past, you had an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in place, and now there is continuing conversation," said Ordu. "And you have a relationship with us that is very good."

He said the relationship between Jamaica and other donors was doing just as well.

"These indicators, in recent times, point to a recognition of the issues and constraints of the economy. And so every effort is in place, to address the most fundamental issue which is the debt overhang, and that's important to free resources," said Ordu.