Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Conclusion of Her Visit to Jamaica

November 19, 2017

  • Participants at the regional forum discussed issues concerning crime and youth unemployment, fiscal policy and political cycles, financial stability and growth tradeoffs.
  • Jamaica is making progress; main challenges are to refocus the public sector’s roles and responsibilities, adjust its workforce, and overhaul their pay structure.

Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Kingston:

“It has been a pleasure visiting Jamaica, my second visit as Managing Director. I had the privilege to meet with Caribbean Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers, Central Bank Governors, private sector representatives, and international organizations who gathered in Kingston for the IMF’s sixth High Level Caribbean Forum, organized in partnership with the Government of Jamaica. My visit also gave me an opportunity to discuss Jamaica’s economic reforms and policy priorities with the Most Hon. Prime Minister Holness, Finance Minister Shaw, and Bank of Jamaica Governor Wynter.

“Before commenting on Jamaica specifically, I had the opportunity to explore with leaders critical regional issues, including the recurring damage from hurricanes and the impact of climate change. In this regard, I pledged to convene a conference with major public and private stakeholders to explore options for building resilience in the Caribbean through risk mitigation and debt management strategies.

“In addition, during the Caribbean Forum on ‘ Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience’, participants considered options to address crime and youth unemployment, fiscal policy and political cycles, and financial stability and growth tradeoffs. Key takeaways include the importance of: (i) a multi-pronged approach to crime including balancing prevention and policing; (ii) strong fiscal institutions and disciplined policy-making; and (iii) financial inclusion while preserving stability.

“Separately, IMF staff organized a roundtable, involving key stakeholders, on the issue of correspondent banking relationships.There is broad consensus that the situation has stabilized as a result of better communication, increased training, and consolidation of transactions. However, risks still remain and continued effort is needed to further advance AML/CFT regulatory reforms.

“During my discussions with the Jamaican authorities, I commended the Prime Minister and his team for their ownership and commitment to economic reforms. Jamaica is a leading example of policy commitment for other countries beyond the Caribbean. With support and sacrifice from the Jamaican people, important progress on macro-economic stability has been made over the past four years, under two different governments. An immediate challenge now is to release scarce fiscal resources for growth friendly priority spending on security, education, health, and infrastructure, to create opportunities for all. To achieve this, Jamaica needs to take tough decisions to refocus the public sector’s roles and responsibilities, adjust the size of the government workforce, and rethink the overall pay structure. These actions will ultimately reinforce the fiscal foundation and create a more resilient Jamaica.

“We remain committed to supporting the people of Jamaica and the region in their efforts to achieve inclusive and resilient growth. In this regard, I underscored that reforms to lower costs of doing business and promote a vibrant private sector are essential. We support steps to ensure that economic gains are shared widely across the population with the help of a stronger social safety net combined with measures to upgrade skills.

“I also met with representatives from unions, the opposition, the reform program monitoring groups, the private sector, students at the University of the West Indies, and with Jamaica’s women leaders. I am impressed by the broad and sustained support that continues to underlie Jamaica’s economic reform efforts. The ongoing policy adjustments constitute an essential foundation for a better future and improved living standards for all Jamaicans.

I also want to thank the authorities and the people of Jamaica for their warm hospitality.”

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