IMF official gives Jamaica high marks
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: Dr Min Zhu, deputy director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has painted a rosy outlook for Jamaica's economic fortunes, indicating that the country's growth trajectory is set to continue on an upward path over the next three years.
"I am very happy to report to you that the growth is stronger this year than last year, and next year, the growth will be even stronger than this year," Min said, as he addressed a luncheon hosted by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday.
He added: "After years of struggling with weak economic growth and with high debt, the first time that you are able to achieve, the government debt is almost down to zero and the primary government Budget is a surplus of 7.5 per cent of GDP."
Min also had high praises for Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and the Government for staying the course with the programme, citing that the IMF board was pleased with the latest review conducted a few week ago.
"We had a very good start. We just finished the review a few weeks ago. The board is extremely pleased about the performance of the programme and, in particular, at this moment. I would like to commend Minister Phillips and [his] team and the Government of Jamaica for [their] determination, commitment, teamwork and … vision," he said.
Min said the Government must continue to place emphasis on job creation and growth.
"I am confident at this moment that the Jamaican economy is moving round the corner into the upside and we have very good, with strong growth, good fiscal policy reducing debt as well," he said.
Min said the purpose of the extended fund facility and the programme now being pursued by the Government and the IMF was not only to bring money into the country, but to reestablish macroeconomic stability.
"What is more important is that we do the fiscal reform, do the structural reform, and improve the climate for the private sector to be able to invest. So in a very short time, you will be able to support the growth, maintain the Budget in a stable way and will be able to reduce the government debt and manage the exchange rate, resulting in tremendous progress on the inflation rate."
He, however, indicated that Jamaica continues to be buffeted by a lack of structural reform and low productivity.