KINGSTON – As International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials on island engage in a review of Jamaica’s economic performance, the co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Richard Byles says the country is in a good position to get a positive performance rating despite missing the primary balance target for March.
Jamaica was set a target of J$121.3 billion (US$1.05 billion) for the quarter ending in March, but the country registered J$117.2 billion (US$1.01 billion), a shortfall of J$4.1 billion (US$35.6 million).
Byles said it was the first quarter that the country did not meet its primary balance target.
“This country has met the targets seven out of the eight quarters that the IMF has reviewed us. In one quarter, we fall short by J$4.1 billion (US$35.6 million) out of J$121.3 billion, so that’s less than four per cent short of the target,” he pointed out yesterday.
Byles said the previous successes were important and the IMF team must “make a decision based on important qualitative judgement that goes beyond just the numbers”.
He said these considerations should include whether the Government remained committed and displayed the effort needed to achieve the critical targets under the programme, and whether the macroeconomic circumstances that were beyond the control of the authorities were sufficient enough to impact the targets.
“The answer to both is yes . . . and I think that I can say unequivocally from EPOC’s point of view, the IMF should give the country a waiver based on these two facts,” Byles asserted.
The IMF mission currently in the island is conducting its eighth quarterly review of Jamaica’s performance under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme with the multilateral agency.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning says it will provide an update to the country at the conclusion of the review.