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IMF managing director to visit Jamaica this month

Published:Tuesday | June 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

McPherse Thompson, Assistant Business Editor

Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, and a delegation are scheduled to arrive in Jamaica on June 27 for a two-day visit, the Ministry of Finance and Planning said yesterday.

She will meet with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips and other senior government officials. Lagarde will also participate in a number of outreach activities before departing the island on Saturday, June 28, the ministry said in a release.

Asked how important is the visit, former finance minister, Audley Shaw, told The Gleaner that "it's always good that these international heads visit Jamaica," recalling that during his tenure, then IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn visited Jamaica twice.

Co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, Richard Byles, said: "I think generally it's very positive. The managing director of the IMF is a very substantial post."

SIGNIFICANT CHOICE

Noting that there are many other countries that Lagarde could have chosen to visit, Byles said, "For her to choose Jamaica, I think it's significant. It must be related to our performance under what even she would agree is a tough programme. I think it's positive from that point of view."

He presumed that she is coming to Jamaica to say, "Well done (on the IMF programme thus far)" and to encourage the country to stay the course over the life of the four-year agreement.

The finance ministry said the visit by the IMF official "underscores the Fund's support for Jamaica's economic reform programme, and signals its commitment to assisting the wider Caribbean."

It noted that the most recent IMF review mission to Jamaica, from May 5 to 16, concluded that the country's overall economic performance under the programme "remains strong, economic outlook is improving, crisis risks have receded, growth has picked up, net exports are stronger, inflation has been brought under control, and reserves are starting to recover".

On May 1, 2013, the IMF executive board approved a request by the Jamaican authorities for a four-year extended arrangement in an amount of 615.4 million special drawing rights, or US$944 million.

Jamaica has since passed the first three tests and is on target to meet the fourth quarterly review, which is subject to approval by the Fund's management and board in June.