KINGSTON, Jamaica— Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief for Jamaica, Dr Uma Ramakrishnan, has credited the success of the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) to the broad-based stakeholder ownership of the reforms and a commitment to “seeing things turn around”.
“The ownership that we have seen across [political] administrations… where things went smoothly… and where [there was] the commitment to retaining the policy discipline, especially on the fiscal side, was something for everyone to take note of and take on board as a lesson,” she said.
Dr Ramakrishnan was addressing journalists during a teleconference at the IMF’s local office at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) building in downtown Kingston yesterday.
The ERP is the government’s strategic plan of action to generate sustained economic growth and long-term development of Jamaica. It targets public debt reduction, macroeconomic stability, and higher levels of job creation and improved labour force productivity as key outcomes.
Dr Ramakrishnan said the outcomes of the IMF-endorsed programme have provided lessons for stakeholders at all levels of the society and foundations on which the country can build.
She said that rallying and building social consensus and support for the reforms, particularly evident through the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) “and just bringing the entire country behind these reforms in a way that we have not seen elsewhere, is also a huge takeaway”.
She noted that “right from 2013, when the partnership was established with various stakeholders – the private sector, the trade unions, civil society, [and] with the media… that partnership resulted in this ownership structure which has contributed to the social consensus behind these reforms”.
The IMF executive argued that “as difficult as they (reforms) may have been, the society, as a whole, has embraced it … and that is a huge mark of success for Jamaica”.
“This demonstrates that when there are difficult reforms to be undertaken, the Government understands that it needs to be done… and policymakers know that it has to be done,” she noted.
“So it is a story of the country coming together behind these reforms to make sure that the economic policy is sustained, and that the fiscal policy is put on a path that is sustainable for the future,” Dr Ramakrishnan added.
Jamaica’s six and a half year IMF programme engagement ended on November 10 with the conclusion of the US$1.7-billion precautionary Stand-By Arrangement, for which the sixth and final review was conducted by the Fund’s Executive Board six days earlier.
That engagement also included the precursory US$932-million Extended Fund Facility.