Overview

Jamaica is an upper middle income country with the largest 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. By 2012 Jamaica accumulated debt  reaching 145 percent of GDP.

To stabilize the economy, reduce debt and unlock growth, the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious program of reforms for which has garnered national and international support. As part of a comprehensive package, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) each agreed to provide US$510 million between the period April 2013 to March 2017, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committed a US$932 million funding  program through its Extended Fund Facility covering the same four-year period. The World Bank has delivered the bulk of the program under the US$510m commitment.  At the end of 2016, the IMF approved a three-year US$1.64 billion Stand By Agreement as a follow-up to the now concluded EFF. In addition, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) continues to support private sector development in Jamaica.

The reform program is beginning to bear fruit: Institutional reforms and measures to improve the investment climate have started to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy. . The country’s credit rating has improved, and Jamaican bonds trade at a premium in international markets. Continued prudent macroeconomic policies and careful liability management reduced total government debt to 122 percent of GDP by the end of 2016.

During the past three years economic growth rates have been steadily rising, although remaining lower than what is needed for eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The World Bank estimates GDP grew by 1.7 percent during the calendar year 2016 and forecasts it to accelerate to around 2 percent in 2017, aided by the growth pick-up in the U.S., low oil prices, and reforms on investment climate.

The country continues to be confronted by high levels of crime and violence and high unemployment that predominantly affect the youth. According to the Statistics Institute of Jamaica, unemployment rate is around 12.9 percent (October 2016), and considerably higher for the youth with 28.6 percent. The latest official estimates show that poverty headcount fell from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2014

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017

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, disaster risk mitigation, infrastructural development, tax administration reform, private sector development, small scale enterprise development and telecommunications.

The current World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-2017 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 to improve business climate and foster 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. 

The World Bank also provides grant funding to Jamaica. Currently, there are two grants focused on improving climate data and information management and supporting social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. 

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017

Important results have been achieved in recent years in government projects financed by the World Bank Group.  These 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.
  • An Education ‘Passport’ has been implemented to track the growth and progress of each Jamaican child in his first years of life through the Early Childhood Development Project. The project also helped with setting the standards for quality in ECD institutions and putting in place the mechanisms for their licensing.  
  • 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 2.0, Digital Jam 3.0 and KingstOOn. More than 4,000 young Jamaicans are now virtually engaged in digital enterprises following the Digital Jam initiative. With current efforts to establish the Caribbean as an animation hub, the Caribbean could see the creation of up to 5,000 additional jobs.
  • IFC helped finance a new 36 megawatt wind farm in Jamaica, the country’s largest private-sector renewable energy project. The BMR Jamaica Wind Project will help diversify the country’s energy matrix and ease the dependence on imported fossil fuels. 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 helped the Jamaican government license its first two credit bureau operators.
  • IFC has made four investments in the Sangster International Airport – Montego Bay, since 2003 for a total of US$105 million, including US$53.5 million mobilized from other investors. IFC loans have supported the construction of a new terminal in 2003, the refurbishment of the original terminal buildings in 2005, and the purchase of check-in related equipment in 2008 and the resurfacing of the airport’s runway in 2013.

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017


LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments