The Jamaica Government has been lauded for the island’s economic recovery, describing its fiscal performance as an example to other Caribbean nations facing economic hardship, an official of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has said.
ECLAC Economic Affairs Officer Dr Maharouf Oyolola’s comments were in response to Gleaner queries about Jamaica’s economy at the 6th biennial Caribbean Youth Leadership Summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I think Jamaica is doing great at this point. So maybe other countries can borrow from that. If you have high debt, focus on reducing the high debt, and one of the reasons Jamaica was very successful in respect of the debt is because of the systems they also put in place to monitor and evaluate the fiscal policy … so Jamaica is doing great right now,” Oyolola said.
In 2016, Jamaica entered into a US$1.64-billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), intended as insurance to support the country’s ongoing reform programme to tackle poverty, create jobs, and improve living standards.
According to Oyolola, the three-year standby precautionary agreement, which concluded in November 2019, is now bearing fruit.
“I think Jamaica might be reaping the effect, the benefit, of those fiscal reforms at this point. It has also trickled down to other sectors, and right now, you have the high business confidence … . Even though crime might be high, the private sector, everyone, seems to have confidence in the economy,” he said in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday.
Oyolola praised the Government for reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio from 120 per cent in 2016 to approximately 96 per cent today. Debt to GDP had soared to almost 150 per cent in 2012.
“Jamaica is on the right track. At the same time, you have Jamaica focusing on the issue of poverty, the issue of inequality. Those are the kinds of things that are also injecting your confidence in the business world,” the economic affairs officer said.