Jamaica is an upper middle income country and the largest in size and population in the English speaking Caribbean. For decades, Jamaica has struggled with low growth, high public debt and many external shocks that further weakened the economy. Over the last 30 years, real per capita GDP increased at an average of just one percent per year, making Jamaica one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world.

To reverse this trajectory, the Government of Jamaica embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious program of reforms for which it has garnered national and international support:  a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF)  by  the International Monetary Fund (IMF) providing  a  support package of US$932 million;  World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programs providing  US$510 million each to facilitate the GoJ’s economic reform agenda to stabilize the economy, reduce debt and create the conditions for growth and resilience.. In addition, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will continue to support private sector development.

The reform program is beginning to bear fruit: Institutional reforms and measures to improve the environment for the private sector have started to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy. Jamaica jumped 27 places to 58 among 189 economies worldwide in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, the country’s credit rating has improved and the Government has successfully raised more than US$ 2 billion in the international capital in the markets in 2014 and 2015..

Despite some revival, economic growth is still low: the Jamaican Government is forecasting real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.9 per cent for the fiscal year 2015/2016 and the the country continues to be  confronted by serious social issues that predominantly affect youth, such as high levels of crime and violence and high unemployment. Jamaica, which had seen its poverty rate drop almost 20 percent over two decades, saw it increase by eight percent in a few years.

The unemployment rate in Jamaica is about 13.2% (April 2015, Statistical Institute of Jamaica ), with youth unemployment more than twice the national rate (38%). However, among Jamaica’s assets are its skilled labor force and strong social and governance indicators.

For more data on Jamaica, visit World Bank's Open Data site.

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2015

The World Bank has  a long standing involvement with Jamaica and has been providing development assistance in various sectors, including agriculture, rural and urban development, education, infrastructural development, tax administration reform, private sector development, small scale enterprise development and telecommunications.

In line with Jamaica’s 2030 National Plan, a new World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-2017 was approved in April 2014 with a focus on:

  • Modernizing the public sector by strengthening the government capacity and effectiveness.
  • Creating an enabling environment for private sector growth by fostering investments in high potential sectors
  • Building social and climate resilience by strengthening the government’s social protection programs and supporting the development of a comprehensive framework for disaster and climate risk management. 

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2015

The World Bank currently has eight ongoing projects in Jamaica:

The Social Protection Project (US$40 million Additional financing approved in 2014) supports the Government’s PATH program, a conditional cash transfer program which ensures school attendance and health visits of children in poor households.  For instance, it helped develop a targeting mechanism, improved enrollment procedures and , established appeals committees with large community representation. In June 2015 the Program PATH counted with over 381,000   beneficiaries The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) (US$15 million) aims to stimulate rural economic growth through the financing of approximately 110 rural subprojects that support revenue generating activities in agriculture and tourism, as well as the provision of critical infrastructure, marketing and management subprojects in these sectors.

The Early Childhood Development Project (US$27 million Additional Financing) co-finances the implementation of Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development by improving services for young children and their parents.

This Project supports Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development through: (i) parenting education and support, (ii) preventive health care for children, (iii) screening, diagnosis and early intervention, (iv) safe, learner centered early childhood facilities, (v) trained early childhood practitioners, (vi) early childhood sector governance and (vii) evidence based decision making. As a result, The Energy Security and Efficiency Project (US$15 million) supports the implementation of the government’s energy policy, particularly the goals of enhancing Jamaica’s energy security and efficiency by reducing energy costs and reducing the country’s high dependence on imported petroleum products.

The Jamaica Integrated Community Development Project (US$ 42 million) is an extension of a previous project with the goal of enhancing to access to basic urban infrastructure and services, and contributing towards increased community safety in selected economically vulnerable and socially volatile inner city and rural communities in Jamaica. These projects supported the establishment of the Violence Observatory, which informs policy making and strategic interventions in crime and violence prevention, particularly in high crime parishes The project support helps  improve community safety through initiatives such as urban renewal and violence interrupter, school-based violence prevention and the strengthening of data on victimization and perceptions of safety.  

The  Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project (US$ 35 million) seeks to strengthen public resource management and support selected public sector institutions in facilitating a more enabling environment for private sector growth..

The  Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries Project (US$ 20 million) is designed to support youth employment in the digital and animation industries in Jamaica. This project builds on successful pilots in Digital Jam 2.0 and 3.0 and KingstOOn which helped create new startups and position the Caribbean as a potential hub for the tech industry, linking the region’s youth with digital entrepreneurs, angel investors and centers of excellence in the Silicon Valley and across Latin America. Recently, a number of Jamaican tech-savvy entrepreneurs also embarked in a 100-day accelerator program supported by the World Bank and the Development Bank of Jamaica.

Jamaica Foundations for Competitiveness and Growth Project (US$ 50 million) aims to strengthen the business environment in Jamaica for private sector investment. The foundation component is designed to enhance competition in the business environment by providing technical assistance and implementation support to address critical business regulation and procedural issues that constrain firm entry, operation and expansion, competition, and trade and logistics.

Under the current strategy, the Bank has disbursed $205 million in budget support

The Bank also provides grant funding to Jamaica. Currently, there are about 2 grants totaling US$9.8million, including the Improving Climate Data and Information Management  and the Jamaica Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project.

Last Updated: Sep 10, 2015


Jamaica: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments