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Jamaica’s challenge with the IMF


rhondathompson, [email protected]

Jamaica’s challenge with the IMF

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JAMAICA, REPUTEDLY one of the countries of the world with crippling debt and very slow economic growth – that varied between one per cent and 1.06 per cent over the past two years – is to resume negotiations next month on a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Given the ongoing verbal crossfire between the ministers of finance of the immediate past Jamaica Labour Party administration (Audley Shaw) and his counterpart in the new People’s National Party government (Dr Peter Phillips), perhaps the time has come for both parties to seriously consider a creative bipartisan approach in concluding those negotiations.
Since there is no such precedent in the Caribbean Community, this approach could well be dismissed as political heresy by elements in both the PNP and the JLP. Yet, while the region continues to cope with the strengths and weaknesses of an inherited Westminster parliamentary system, there seems no valid reason why new creative initiatives cannot be pursued to address prevailing economic challenges.
When, therefore, the parties that have been dominating governments in Jamaica chose to expose their quarrels in public over who did or could possibly do a better job in negotiations with the IMF,  they should be humble enough to recognise that, unintentionally, they may well be making it all the more difficult to achieve the best possible agreement.
Following the change in government with a landslide PNP win in the December 29 poll, a team from the IMF returned to Kingston earlier this month to hammer out unresolved differences over a new accord.
The team would be aware of the disagreements between the chief spokesmen for the two parties.
 Jamaica’s existing agreement with the IMF is scheduled to expire in May and, to follow the argument of Phillips, the delay in concluding a new one could be attributed to failure by the JLP administration to reach an understanding on “critical structural benchmarks and targets”.
Not so, came the swift response from his predecessor who said that, on the contrary, the previous government had already achieved a “95 per cent compliance rate with performance measures as set by Jamaica’s multilateral funding partners, including the IMF.
Assuming that some solid arguments are located in the separate positions advanced by both parties, then they should perhaps consider breaking new political ground with a bipartisan approach for a consensus-based case that Phillips could take to Washington next month for the scheduled resumption of negotiations.

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