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Overview

  • Like its neighbors across the Caribbean, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters including hurricanes, flooding and the effects of climate change. It is an upper middle-income country but struggles with low growth, high public debt and external shocks which weaken its 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 stabilize the economy, reduce debt and fuel growth, the government is implementing an ambitious reform program that has garnered national and international support. Since 2013, as part of a comprehensive package of support by WB, IMF and IDB, the Bank has provided more than US$510 million of development policy and investment financing in support of private sector led growth, public sector transformation and building social and climate resilience.

    In addition, IFC, a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group, continues to make private sector investments that support inclusive growth and job creation in Jamaica.

    The institutional reforms and efforts to improve the investment climate have started to bear fruit. The country’s credit rating has improved and Jamaican bonds trade at a premium in international markets. Public and publicly guaranteed debt fell to 114 percent of GDP by the end of 2017.

    Underlining Jamaica’s climate vulnerability, Jamaica’s GDP grew by an estimated 0.5 percent in 2017, down from 1.4 percent in 2016 (a decline due mostly due to severe floods and other adverse weather during the first half of 2017). The economy is expected to rebound in 2018 with growth of 1.7 percent. The poverty rate was estimated to have increased to 15.9 percent in 2015, but with a projected declining path over 2018–20. Total employment grew by 2.3 percent in 2017. Unemployment fell to 10.4 percent in October 2017 while youth unemployment also fell by 7 percent to 25.4, the lowest rate since 2007. 

    Crime and violence levels remain high emphasizing the need to address issues of youth unemployment, education and social cohesion. Despite progress in maintaining a macro stability and fostering growth, stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity.

     

    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2018

  • The World Bank has a long-standing relationship with Jamaica and has been providing financing, knowledge and advisory support in key areas. The current World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-2019 is aligned to Jamaica’s Vision 2030 and focuses on:

    ·       Public sector modernization to enhance the government’s capacity and effectiveness.

    ·       Private sector-led growth through improved business climate and fostering investments in high-potential sectors.

    ·       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. 

    Within the current strategy, the WBG has provided financing of more than US$500 million in IBRD loans.

    IFC works across a broad range of sectors in Jamaica, including financial markets, infrastructure, information and communication technology, and manufacturing and services. IFC’s committed portfolio currently stands at US$151 million, comprising US$102 for IFC’s own account and US$49 million mobilized from partnering institutions.

    In the last three years under the current CPS, IFC committed: US$20 million in a renewable energy generation project that is helping to diversify the country’s energy matrix and ease the dependence on imported fossil fuels; US$20 million in a Telecommunication project that has allowed a Jamaican Group to expand regionally and support linkages with small and medium enterprises and inclusive growth across the company's value chain; and US$81 million under the Global Trade Finance Program, which extends and complements the capacity of banks to deliver trade financing by providing risk mitigation in new or challenging markets where trade lines may be constrained.

    In addition, the World Bank provides two grants to Jamaica focused on improving climate data and information management and supporting the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. 

     

    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2018

  • Government projects financed by the World Bank Group produced important results in recent years. Some highlights include:

    ·      More than 387,000 Jamaicans benefited the Government’s Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), a conditional cash transfer program which helps improve school attendance and health visits of children in poor households.

    ·      The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is helping improve market access for micro and small-scale rural agricultural producers, and other service providers by supporting revenue generating activities in agriculture and tourism while providing critical infrastructure, marketing and management support. To date, more than 1,400 farmers have benefited from improved technology, training and access to markets.

    ·      An Education ‘Passport’ has been implemented to track the growth and progress of each Jamaican child in his first years of life and setting the standards for quality in ECD institutions through the Early Childhood Development Project.

    ·      The Jamaica Integrated Community Development Project  has helped improve community safety and development in 18 economically and socially vulnerable inner city and rural communities by upgrading urban infrastructure such as solar street lighting, and introducing violence interrupters and school-based violence prevention.  

    ·      As of 2015, with support from the  Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project formal participatory budgeting has become part of the annual budgeting process in Jamaica and public investment management system was strengthened.

    ·      The  Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries Project builds on successful pilots in Digital Jam and KingstOOn with more than 4,000 young Jamaicans engaged in digital enterprises.

    ·      IFC supported the BMR Jamaica Wind Project, a 36-megawatt wind farm, which is Jamaica’s largest private-sector renewable energy project. It is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by about 66,000 tons CO2 equivalent per year, roughly equivalent to taking 13,000 cars off the road.

    ·      IFC is working with Sagicor Bank Jamaica Limited to help establish SME best practices and in so better reach a sector that is currently underserved by the banking sector. 

    ·      IFC is providing advisory services to the Government of Jamaica to help improve the regulatory, institutional and administrative framework for business taxation.

    ·      IFC is working with Jamaica coffee producers to help increase the quality and quantity of coffee grown by farmers and processed by firms through a combination of activities focused on improving genetics, sharing best practices in agronomy, and creating inclusive business models.

    ·      IFC Advisory services are helping local sauces and spices producers to strengthen the value chain of small and medium enterprises in the sector by improving market linkages, using market feedback to address supply-side coordination failures, and improving food safety standards of firms.

    ·      IFC also recently signed three Advisory Cooperation Agreements:

    ·               Secured Interest in Personal Property Act (SIPPA) – with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) to support implementation of the Financial Inclusion Strategy through improvements in the SIPPA, adjustments of the prudential lending framework, and adjustments to the National Personal Property Registry (NPPR).

    ·               GK Insurance –with GK Insurance Company Limited to increase access to finance/credit penetration in rural areas of Jamaica with a specific focus on the agricultural sector by development of a coffee livelihood product. 

    ·               The Jamaica Trade Information Portal - with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) - will make it easier for traders and investors to comply with regulatory requirements associated with the import and export of goods. The portal will make all cross-border trade regulatory information available by a simple click, including laws, administrative procedures, guidance notes, forms, licenses, permits, and applicable fees.

     

    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2018

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

USA +1 458-2656
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433
cchapoy@worldbank.org