KINGSTON: The head of the International Monetary Fund started a two-day visit to Jamaica on Friday, praising the Caribbean island for progress in implementing a lending agreement to improve its fiscal health, but insisted more needed to be done.
“The agreement is off to a very strong start,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement after meeting with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. “All reviews have been completed with all performance criteria met. This is an exceptionally strong record by IMF Standards,” Lagarde added, citing a review by the IMF Executive Board on June 20.
Jamaica is in the first year of a four-year Extended Fund Facility agreement with the IMF, under which $930m will be loaned for economic reform aimed at reversing the country’s history of low growth and high debt.
“The economic outlook is improving. Compared to a year ago, growth has picked up, unemployment has declined, inflation has been brought under control, the current account deficit has shown an ongoing improvement, and reserves are starting to recover,” Lagarde said.
She said more needed to be done. Despite a tax incentive law approved by parliament in December and a March fiscal law, Jamaica still had to improve tax collection, modernise the public sector, and take other measures to boost investor confidence and growth, she said.
“The programme has benefited from broad public support, and this will need to be maintained to ensure continued strong performance,” Lagarde added. Reuters