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PM says IMF not responsible for hardships

Published:Friday | November 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, talks with Prime Minister Andrew Holness on their way to a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has challenged claims that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposes hardships on Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, noting that it was the policies pursued by regional governments for many years that have led to austerity measures.

"It is disingenuous to say that the IMF imposes (hardships)," Holness said in response to a question about the hardships that accompany IMF programmes across the region.

Addressing journalists yesterday at a press conference hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at Jamaica House, Holness said that there was need for "a level of honesty and maturity in the discussion about how Caribbean countries have managed public financing".

"By and large, we have consumed without regard for production and productivity, and that consumption has led to high debt."

The prime minister argued that a large chunk of the consumption was eaten up by corruption.

In her comments, Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde said that the Fund's programmes were always introduced with a social safety net component to protect the vulnerable in the society.


Difficult measures needed


She said that when the IMF enters into an agreement to assist a country that is facing serious balance of payments problems, difficult measures have to be introduced in order to restore conditions for sustainable growth.

In her earlier presentation, the IMF boss said that it was time Jamaica built on its macroeconomic stability by tackling deep-rooted structural impediments to growth.

Lagarde told Holness that it was important for Jamaica to take the tough decisions that the government has identified, including the various components of the public-sector transformation exercise.

Earlier this week, the prime minister told lawmakers that as part of the public-sector transformation exercise, at least five public bodies would be closed by year end.