Jamaica’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP) remains in good shape, as evidenced by notable gains and out-turns in 2018. These included:
• Better-than-targeted Central Government Primary Balance, at seven per cent, amounting to over $44 billion.
• First quarter fiscal year growth of 2.2 per cent, first quarter calendar year growth of 1.4 per cent and third quarter calendar year growth of 1.8 per cent.
• Net International Reserves (NIR) totalling US$2.9 billion up to the end of November.
• Further reduction in the debt to under 100 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
• Inflation of 4.1 per cent up to the end of October.
• All-time record-low unemployment of 8.4 per cent.
• Jamaica passed the Inter- national Monetary Fund’s (IMF) third and fourth biannual reviews under the US$1.66 billion Precautionary Stand-by Arrangement (PSBA).
• Acting IMF Executive Board Chairman and Managing Director, Tao Zhang, and Mission Chief to Jamaica, Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, noted that the ERP’s implementation remains strong and on track.
Upgraded Global Ratings
• International ratings agency, Standard and Poor’s, improved its outlook for Jamaica from ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive’.
• Another agency, Moody’s, affirmed the country’s rating at single ‘B’ and raised its outlook from ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive’.
Jamaica continued to benefit from additional multilateral funding support:
• €9.17 million (US$10 million) European Union (EU) grant for the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme (EMEP).
• US$248 million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan for the Public Sector Transformation Project, National Identification System (NIDS) and to further boost national security technology inputs.
• US$4.8 million World Bank grant to help vulnerable fishing and fish-farming communities adapt to climate change resilient practices.
• US$15 million World Bank loan to boost micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) financial support.
• The 2018/19 Estimates of Expenditure, totalling $773.6 billion, was tabled. The first Supplementary Estimates totalling $791.11 billion, which reflected a $17.42 billion increase, was tabled. No new revenue measures were implemented.
Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ)
• Fiscal year revenue inflows up to the end of September stood at $153.1 billion, about two per cent above the $149.8 billion projection. This places the TAJ on track to surpass the $320.8 billion annual target.
• The framework facilitating the financial sector’s over- sight by the Financial Regulatory Committee was strengthened under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by member entities.
Independent Fiscal Council
• Cabinet approved the establishment of an Independent Fiscal Council as part of measures to strengthen Jamaica’s Fiscal Responsibility Framework.
Public Investment Management System (PIMS)
• Over 100 project ideas have been submitted through the PIMS since its establishment in 2014. The web-based system screens project proposals from Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure their feasibility and alignment with Jamaica’s development objectives.