Jamaica: 2014 Article IV Consultation and Fourth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria-Staff Re ePub (Adobe DRM) download by International Monetary Fund. West Dept.

Jamaica: 2014 Article IV Consultation and Fourth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria-Staff Re

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Publication date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781498322140
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Addressing imbalances. For decades, Jamaica has been stuck in a negative spiral of low growth, high unemployment, high debt, and precarious fiscal finances. In an attempt to break with the past, in 2013 the authorities embarked on an ambitious reform program, supported by the Fund through the Extended Fund Facility. A fragile recovery is underway. Growth is slowly picking up, there has been a sizeable contraction of the current account deficit, and inflation is falling (although remains in the high single digits). The 2014/15 budget targets an ambitious 7½ percent of GDP primary surplus. The reform agenda remains complex and challenging. A large fiscal adjustment has been put in place, important tax reforms and a fiscal rule have been introduced, and the exchange rate has been allowed to adjust in an effort to restore competitiveness. However, investor confidence remains tentative and tangible signs of a growth and job creation dividend from the painful reform efforts are urgently needed. Future policy priorities include improving tax collection, creating a smaller and more efficient public sector, and removing red tape to boost growth. Vulnerabilities within the financial system need to be proactively addressed, including through an overhaul of the securities dealers industry. The program is on track. Jamaica’s four-year, SDR 615.38 million (225 percent of quota) Extended Arrangement under the EFF was approved by the IMF Executive Board on May 1, 2013, and the first three reviews under the program were completed on schedule. All end- March 2014 quantitative performance criteria were met. The structural benchmarks for end- March and April were also met, except that the Banking Services Bill required fine-tuning after it had been tabled in March. Based on the strong performance to date and the authorities’ updated policy intentions and commitments, staff recommends completion of the fourth review under the extended arrangement. But risks continue to be high. A delayed growth recovery could undermine social support for the reform efforts, financial sector vulnerabilities could become more pressing, or risks to external financing (including from PetroCaribe) could crystallize.
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