KINGSTON: A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will visit Jamaica next month to conduct a review of the country’s performance under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
IMF representative Bert van Selm said this would be the second review under the program, following the conclusion of the first quarterly evaluation by the IMF Executive Board in September.
While addressing the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) breakfast forum, held under the theme “Jamaica’s Growth Strategy and the Alignment under the IMF Agreement”, the IMF official said the EFF program was off to a good start.
“But we have a long way to go, as Jamaica’s EFF actually has 15 reviews planned, of which we have just concluded one,” he said.
The IMF delegation is expected to review Jamaica’s performance for the quarter ending September and discuss how the country is expected to perform in subsequent quarters.
Jamaica was recently granted a second drawdown of US$30.6 million from the IMF under the four-year agreement, which brought total disbursements under the arrangement to about US$240.4 million.
JEA president Andrew Collins said his association is particularly concerned about the need to realize real growth in the economy and to see the stabilization of the Jamaican dollar against the U.S. and other major currencies.
“There are many who believe that exporters are happy with a devalued dollar,” he said. “However, that is furthest from the truth, as the instability in the dollar severely impacts our ability to plan, budget, negotiate or even do accurate forecasting.”
Collins urged the IMF to give sufficient consideration to the vulnerabilities of Jamaica’s export sector, even as the government works towards implementing the terms of the agreement to address the country’s fiscal difficulties.
“(We hope that) sufficient flexibility will be exercised to enable the government to make the necessary investments to stimulate and grow the economy, ” he said, indicating that the JEA has submitted recommendations for increased support to the export sector for inclusion in the draft of the Omnibus Tax Incentives Act, which was tabled in Parliament last month.
Among the JEA’s recommendations is the introduction of tax credits to spur innovation, enhance competitiveness, boost productivity capacity and ultimately facilitate the emergence of new goods and services. It has also suggested the streamlining of the Duty Drawback Scheme to enable Jamaican exporters to benefit from waivers on all imported inputs.
“We are at a disadvantage as significant amounts of our raw material are manufactured outside of the country, and as such, we ask for duty waiver on the importation of these items for the export sector,” said Collins, calling for “special tax incentives for the sector to attract new investors and to support existing exporters”.