KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday May 2, 2019 – Newly appointed World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Axel van Trostenburg, says Jamaica’s macroeconomic achievements, to date, have been “extremely impressive”.
“I don’t know any country that has achieved, over a sustained period of time, the fiscal adjustments and reforms as Jamaica has done, and produced a most spectacular reduction of its debt level that reached almost 150 per cent, to fall, this year, below 100 per cent.
“It’s certainly a world achievement… that probably would be number one, in terms of that success,” he said. “I can only congratulate the country for this. I think this is very good news. I can only [urge] you to continue this, because many countries could start learning from [this] miracle in Jamaica, that despite the many challenges, the country has made this enormous progress.”
He was speaking at a media briefing to announce an additional US$140 million World Bank loan provision for Jamaica.
The funds will bolster the Government’s efforts to strengthen Jamaica’s resilience risks associated with natural disasters, as well as support human capital development and enhance the social safety net for the society’s most vulnerable citizens.
The World Bank official, who was making his first visit to the island since his appointment, said Jamaica’s achievements are worthy of being highlighted.
“I certainly mentioned to the Finance Minister [Dr Nigel Clarke] that we may need to actually highlight it a little bit more in the [Bank’s] membership, so that other countries can also learn what are the factors behind this,” he said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the provision of the US$140 million, resulting from discussions that Dr Clarke had during the Bank’s recent series of spring meetings, “comes as a result of good management of the economy”.
“It shows that the World Bank and other International Development Partners are willing to place their loan portfolios with us because we are managing our economy the right way,” he added.
Holness said the Government intends to stick to its current macroeconomic policy in order to protect and build on the gains attained to date, saying that any reversal or diversion from the policy could jeopardize prospects for the nation’s economic security and independence.
“We are seeing growth emerging…and I think we can safely say that we have entrenched good fiscal management [and] the Government is set on this course,” he said.
“But the gains that we have made can easily be reversed if we were ever to tinker with or try to, in any way, change what the people of Jamaica, the trade unions, the banks, the private sector, the public sector have worked so hard to [achieve],” he said, stressing that it is more practical to “stick with what we have seen work”.
“Let us not start this conversation about trying to change policy. Let us cement it in and…move on to other things, such as becoming a resilient country, to protect the gains that we have,” the Jamaican Prime Minister added.