The International Monetary Fund’s representative reviewing our performance under an Economic Reform Programme (ERP) was asked to react to the 19 babies who have died from bacteria in two major hospitals, in Jamaica.
Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, IMF’s Mission head, declared that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not “micro” manage the Jamaican economy. We are concerned about the “macro” aspects of Jamaica’s Economic Reform programme (ERP). Recipient governments must take responsibly for programme implementation and by extension allocation of resources/funds.
The IMF team leader was responding to a question asked at a press briefing by Vision Newspaper correspondent, held at the Ministry of Finance Offices, Kingston, Jamaica W. I.
The Jamaican government had successfully completed a tenth review in which it was rewarded with an early Christmas gift of a lowering of the target for the Primary Surplus Balance. (PSB)… effectively freeing up now 4 billion US dollars for the PNP government to have for domestic spending…. a further 8 billion would be available next year (2016).
Responding to this new development, Audley Shaw, Opposition Spokesman on Finance and Former Finance Minister chided the IMF and wondered a loud at the timing of this move as Jamaica is in a campaign leading to early General Elections believed pregnant for delivery. Shaw said this is tantamount to the IMF trying to influence the outcome of the Elections.
The IMF had agreed with the PNP government that the PUBLIC SECTOR wage bill would not be more than 9 percent of GDP. This has not been achieved to date.
However, the IMF’s representative to Jamaica has defended/reinforced the move, stating that the decision was based on assurances that methods like attrition, retirement, etc will trim the size of the staff and by extension lower the wage bill. It was this assurance that led the move by the IMF to lower the PSB on which the 9 percent was Endagreed on which legally bound the parties …the IMF AND Jamaica …. hence the agreed Primary Surplus Balance.
The spokesman further stated that the IMF is prepared to work with the JLP should it form the next government. (See picture at press conference)
It was felt that due the tight liquidity requirements set by the IMF …this could have led to the deaths of 19 premature babies.
Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips, Devon Rowe, Financial Secretary and Bank of Jamaica Governor, Brian Wynter all rejected this notion.
Poor management of the Health Sector is to be blamed they all opined. Heads have since rolled with calls for more firings. Former Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson has been transferred.
By Hopeton O’CONNOR-DENNIE,
Senior International Correspondent, reporting for Vision Newspaper Canada.