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PM, IMF boss will only make press statements

No questions, please

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 27, 2014    

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INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde will commence a two-day visit to Jamaica today with a busy round of calls on Government and Opposition leaders. However, the press will not be able to ask her questions about the harsh structural adjustment programme prescribed by the IMF, as well as the sliding Jamaican dollar.

According to a schedule provided for media coverage yesterday, Lagarde and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will make press statements at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) at 11:00 am today. But, the schedule says, no questions from the press will be allowed at this event.

Lagarde's visit with Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips at his ministry at Heroes Circle at 9:30 am today will only offer the press "photo opportunities".

The other engagements for the IMF chief are her lecture at the Social Science Lecture Theatre at the University of the West Indies, Mona this afternoon at four o'clock, which seems to be the highlight of her visit, and her tour of the HEART/NTA College of Construction Services in Portmore tomorrow morning.

IMF Director of Communications Gerry Rice, in confirming the visit in Washington, DC last week Thursday, told the press corps that Lagarde would travel from Mexico to Jamaica, "to meet with the authorities there and participate in several events, including at the University of the West Indies, where she will address students, faculty, and the broader community.

"We hope to have that event (the lecture) webcast for you, so you'll be able to follow it," Rice told the Washington press.

But the IMF's Kingston office says that Lagarde's visit "underscores the IMF's support for Jamaica's Economic Reform Programme, and signals the fund's commitment to assisting the wider Caribbean".

Lagarde is also expected to meet with Opposition Leader Andrew Holness at his office at West King's House Road this afternoon at two o'clock. Holness is likely to present her with a letter primarily calling for a halt to the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar. However, that visit was not included in the schedule made available by the OPM yesterday, although it has been confirmed by the Opposition leader's office.

Lagarde will leave Jamaica tomorrow evening to return to her Washington, DC office.

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