Jamaica PM: IMF help only on our terms

KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 29, 2009 – Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding says his administration will only enter into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if the terms of that arrangement are beneficial to the country.

“We are not going to go back into any IMF agreement unless we are satisfied that that agreement is good for Jamaica, that it has the provisions in it to help Jamaica to move forward, and not to help Jamaica to go into any reverse gear. We are not into that,” he said.

In his budget presentation last month, Golding said that the government was looking into assistance from the IMF, in light of the global financial crisis and continued concerns about the country’s balance of payments, as well as pressure on the Net International Reserves.

Last Thursday, both he and Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw met with the social partnership group, comprised of representatives from the private sector, trade unions and the opposition, to discuss the terms under which the country should enter into a funding arrangement with the IMF.

While not providing any details of the meeting, Golding said that further discussions with the group would take place. Shaw will meet with IMF officials in Washington, following which an IMF team would visit the island. Cabinet will then review the provisions emanating from these deliberations to arrive at a definitive position, following which an appropriate announcement will be made in Parliament.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister stated that the IMF would not solve the country’s long-term problems, noting that the solution was to produce more and import less.

“We all recognise that while you may need an IMF agreement to help you through this immediate storm that we are facing, an IMF agreement is not going to solve the problems of Jamaica. No World Bank, no IDB (Inter American Development Bank), is going to be able to solve the problems of Jamaica, because the problems of Jamaica are rooted. You could simplify it in one statement; we import too much and we do not produce enough for ourselves,” Golding insisted.

“Whether the problem is unemployment, or crime, driven by a lack of opportunity, or it is bad roads because we are not deriving enough revenue to fix the roads as fast as we want…it comes down to one equation, we need to produce more, to depend on foreign producers less, and that is the way in which we are going to build the economy, create jobs and prosperity for Jamaica.”

He said that it was only through increased production that Jamaicans would be able to build the economy, create jobs and build prosperity for the country. (JIS)