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Jamaicans wary of IMF extension

Published: Thursday June 30, 2011 | 9:06 am Comments 0

Jamaicans are warning the Government to tread carefully as it considers extending the current loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Jamaica is now well into the second year of a 27-month, US$1.27 billion IMF loan programme, which began in February 2010.

However, Finance Minister Audley Shaw has started talks with the Fund to extend the arrangement.

However, Shaw will have to convince more than four in every 10 Jamaicans that this is a good move.

A Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll has found that 43 per cent of the respondents believe the Government was wrong in deciding to extend the IMF deal.

However, 37 per cent approved of the move while 20 per cent did not offer an opinion.

The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent, was conducted on May 28 and 29 and June 4 and 5 among 1,008 Jamaicans.

In the meantime, even as Shaw tries to extend the standby arrangement with the fund, an international think tank, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has warned that the agreement could worsen the country’s debt burden and harm health and education.

Last month, the centre published a paper that claimed Jamaica’s economic and social progress continues to suffer considerably from the burden of an unsustainable debt.

Tt said pro-cyclical macroeconomic policies, implemented under the IMF, have damaged Jamaica’s recent and current economic prospects.

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