Praise for Jamaica from Georgieva

Praise for Jamaica from IMF's new head Kristalina Georgieva

BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
Observer writer

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently gave special recognition to Jamaica for its efforts in engineering an economic turnaround with the IMF's support in recent years.

Georgieva was delivering an address at the recently held annual meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staged from October 14-20, 2019.

The meetings assemble academics, ministers of finance and development, central bankers and other representatives from society and the private and public sectors, to address matters related to development, aid, poverty, the global financial system and the world economy.

“I am pleased to see that the staff of the IMF is very attentive to how we can support our members in their pursuit of good sound economic policies,” said Georgieva. “I want to give one example — Jamaica. We had two IMF support programmes. They have delivered tangible results, a reduction in public debt by 50 per cent of gross domestic product, historically low unemployment, inflation stability and I also want to congratulate the Government of Jamaica for being very creative on how it would bring society on board using reggae music to communicate the benefits of low inflation.”

“Sing and dance your way through trouble,” she concluded to laughter and applause from the audience.

Georgieva's statement on the use of reggae music referred to an initiative by the Bank of Jamaica to sensitise the public through music videos to the importance of an inflation target being the pillar of monetary policy.

The reggae music videos went viral earlier this year and received worldwide acclaim from monetary policymakers and international media.

Georgieva is not the first official associated with the IMF to praise Jamaica's recent economic progress. In September, former managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, lauded Jamaica's macroeconomic policies and “creativity” in achieving record-low unemployment, inflation stability, debt reduction, job creation and more robust reserves.

In August, Dr Constant Longeng Ngouana, the IMF's resident representative in Jamaica, not only praised Jamaica's transition to a healthier economy but expressed confidence in the island as it exits the IMF's programme.

“Jamaica is ready,” he insisted. “Jamaica is ready to exit IMF financial support and I want to stress 'financial support' because we have been a strong partner to Jamaica. We will continue to be a strong partner to Jamaica. But the nature of our relationship will change to reflect the maturity of the Jamaican economy and the maturity of policymaking in Jamaica.”

HOLNESS AND CLARKE

A video recording of Georgieva's remarks about Jamaica at last week's IMF and World Bank annual meeting was shared on social media by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and development.

The prime minister used the hashtags #MovingInTheRightDirection and #NewJamaica in his Facebook post, while Clarke used #JamaicaToTheWorld at the end of his introduction to the video on Twitter.

The majority of comments from social media users were positive and complimentary towards the Government and prime minister, while a number of users sought to point out that the effort that turned the economy around was the work of both People's National Party (PNP) and Jamaica's Labour Party (JLP) administrations.

“Both parties did their part in this, congrats guys!” read one response to the prime minister, while another said, “thanks to the hard working PNP Government of 2013-2016, which laid this solid foundation for this achievement to take place under Andrew Holness Government... Well done to all…”

Other social media users warned that there is still more work to be done.

“Remember,without a growing economy that has the ability to generate sustainable employment with living wages conditions will not improve for the masses,” warned one Twitter user in response to Clarke's post. “Therefore those with the ability to create that environment must be given the opportunity to invest and pave the path to success.”

Another response to the prime minister suggested that “we shouldn't gloat in our international achievement with our economy! We have yet to ameliorate our crime and violence situation nor improve our education system and environmental stewardship!”

2019 has been a year of positive international media coverage of the island's economy, with a number of articles featuring Jamaica being published by organisations such as Bloomberg, The Financial Times and the Miami Herald.


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