KINGSTON: Since signing an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Jamaica has attracted in excess of a billion United States dollars in investments.
Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips said that passing IMF tests had also created an environment conducive to attracting investments and stabilizing the local economy.
“I can tell you if we were not passing these tests, life would be tremendously worse,” he said.
Last week, the IMF approved an immediate disbursement of US$68.8 million for Jamaica after completing the fifth review of the island’s economic performance under the four year US$932 EFF program.
The IMF said that Jamaica’s economic performance under the EFF arrangement has remained strong and that “all quantitative performance criteria for end-June 2014, as well as the continuous quantitative program targets and structural benchmarks, were met”.
The U.S.-based financial institution said gains from Jamaica’s demanding reform program are emerging.
Dr. Phillips said that before Jamaica successfully negotiated the arrangement with the IMF, financing from external entities and investments were low.
“Since then, we’ve had in excess of a billion U.S. dollars’ worth of private investments, we’ve had access to loan funds, we have been able to build up our reserves so that if there is a hurricane or crisis of some other sort, we would be able to deal with it,” he said.
The IMF program seeks to reduce Jamaica’s public debt, bring macro-economic stability, improve productivity of the labour force and enhance investor confidence, so the country can achieve sustained economic growth and development.
Phillips said the Portia Simpson-Miller government will continue to focus on securing continued growth in the economy at higher levels and boosting employment for Jamaicans.
He said over 30,000 jobs have been added to the economy in the past year, mostly in the sectors of tourism, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and agriculture, which mainly benefitted persons in rural parishes.