The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday approved a three-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Jamaica to support the authorities’ continued economic reform agenda.
Access under the SBA arrangement amounts to about US$ 1,64 billion (SDR 1,195.3 million), the equivalent of 312 percent of Jamaica’s quota in the IMF. The Jamaican authorities have indicated that they will treat the arrangement as precautionary, and do not intend to draw on the new SBA unless exogenous shocks generate an actual balance of payments need.
The Executive Board approval will make about US$ 411.9 million (SDR 300.1 million) available, and the remainder in six tranches upon completion of semi-annual program reviews.
Following the Executive Board discussion on Jamaica, Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said: “Jamaica has established a commendable track record of program ownership and implementation under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Macroeconomic stability has been entrenched, evidenced by low inflation, the build up of foreign currency reserves, and a decline in the current account deficit. Fiscal discipline and proactive debt management have helped place public debt on a downward trajectory. Still, growth is low, poverty and unemployment are high, and crime and security challenges impose a serious drag on growth.”
According to Tao Zhang, “The authorities’ request for a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), which they intend to treat as precautionary, will provide insurance against unforeseen adverse external economic shocks, while focusing reform efforts to deliver better growth and job outcomes, as well as reduce poverty, while sustaining macroeconomic stability.
“Fiscal discipline and public debt reduction will continue to anchor Jamaica’s reform program. Public sector transformation, another key pillar of the program, will seek to re-orient public resource allocation toward infrastructure, social protection, and security-related spending, while delivering more efficient public services. The ongoing growth-friendly shift from direct to indirect taxes will continue to broaden the tax base and improve the efficiency of the tax system. The program will continue to protect social spending, while also instituting reforms to strengthen the social safety net,” Tao Zhang said.
According to Tao Zhang, “Supply side reforms are critical to unlock Jamaica’s growth potential and create more private sector jobs. In this context, every effort is needed, in collaboration with development partners, to execute the structural growth reforms recommended by the authorities’ Economic Growth Council. Resources will have to be redirected to combat crime and ensure national security. Easing of growth bottlenecks will facilitate a stronger private sector job creation, as the government refocuses and streamlines its role.”