By Alecia Smith
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative, Dr Constant Lonkeng Ngouana, says Jamaica has made tremendous progress over the last six years and is now ready to exit its current arrangement with the organisation, speaking at a public forum at the Bethel Baptist Church, Monday, July 29.
“Jamaica has reached a place where we don’t need to be here all the time. We are taking the back seat and Jamaica is in the driver’s seat. With what Jamaica has achieved over the past six years, we believe Jamaica is ready to exit the IMF and run its own business,” he said.
Jamaica’s current programme with the IMF is scheduled to officially end in November. The country will, however, continue to benefit from technical assistance.
“When Jamaica exits the financial support of the IMF, there will still be that consultation, which we do for the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), all our member countries. But it is not going to be the same [arrangement] of setting the targets and monitoring,” Dr Ngouana said.
“We will offer our advice through technical assistance and so on, but not the heavy monitoring,” adding that this is “a sign of maturity” and confidence in Jamaica’s ability to manage its own affairs.
In the meantime, Dr Ngouana praised the efforts of successive administrations, since 2013, to turn the Jamaican economy around, and noted the seamless continuity of the IMF programme across administrations.
“Up to 2011, Jamaica was in and out of IMF programmes… [and] there wasn’t a steady process. Since 2013, which is believed to be the turning point… Jamaica acknowledged the problem and said, ‘we need to fix this’,” he said.
Dr Ngouana noted that the turn-round is “huge” citing the reduction in public debt and unemployment, increase in the foreign reserve, rise in business and consumer confidence, and the success of the stock market, which is the “best performing on earth”.
He commended the government for the measures being put in place to ensure that the gains achieved under the economic reform programme (ERP) are preserved.
These include work to establish the proposed independent fiscal council to monitor the government’s economic programme and fiscal rule framework; modernising the Bank of Jamaica; and putting in place a policy framework for disaster risk financing and macro-fiscal capacity.
Jamaica’s latest relationship with the IMF started in 2013 when the country entered into a four-year US$932-million Extended Fund Facility (EFF). This arrangement ended in 2016 when it was replaced by a US$1.6-billion Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement.