Jamaica sticking with IMF plan

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Despite the negative impact which the unrest in sections of Kingston is expected to have on Jamaica’s economy, the government is still aiming to meet the targets outlined in its recent US$1.27 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It may do so with some modifications, according to Financial Secretary Dr. Wesley Hughes, but the program will not have to be “drastically reordered”.

Dr. Hughes said the Ministry of Finance would have to do an in-depth assessment to determine the extent of the impact of the violence in Tivoli Gardens and surrounding areas. But he revealed that the government has already begun talks with the IMF regarding possible adjustments.

“As of now, there is a commitment to stick with the program as negotiated and any adjustments that we are going to have to make will be within the context of the original program. We are going to try to meet the targets,” Hughes said.

However, he noted there will be challenges ahead, especially given the government’s stated intention to sustain efforts to dismantle gangs across the island.

The financial secretary further disclosed plans to include the recent developments in Jamaica’s Letter of Intent, which was being modified after the nation performed better than expected on the first IMF test.

A team from the IMF visited Jamaica last month to review its performance. It reported that Jamaica had met all its quantitative performance criteria for the end of March 2010 test date, without the need for waivers.

Based on this performance, the team has recommended the release of the next tranche of funds to Jamaica. The team and the government also agreed to update the Letter of Intent for review by the board of the Fund when it meets this month.

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