This page in:
  • English

Jamaica Overview


    Jamaica's most pressing challenge is the country’s debt, currently estimated at 141.6% of GDP (March 2014), which has significantly hampered the country’s economic growth. Other critical development challenges include mitigating the medium-term effects of the global economic crisis, reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and protecting social gains while moving towards fiscal and debt sustainability.

    For decades, Jamaica has struggled with low growth, high public debt and a number of external shocks that have 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 address this issue and build on the early successes of the IMF-led structural adjustment program, the government in March 2011 prepared a strategy to stimulate growth in the near-to-medium term.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved in May 2013, a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF), yielding a total support package of approximately US$932 million to facilitate the GoJ’s economic reform agenda to stabilize the economy, reduce debt and create the conditions for growth and resilience. Complementing the IMF package, The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) each allocated US$510 million to Jamaica for the same period, while the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will continue to support private sector development.

    The Jamaican economy has already shown signs of improvement and is expected to grow at 1-2% over the medium term. Despite Jamaica’s impressive achievements, the country is 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 an increase from under 10 percent in 2007 to more than 17 percent in 2010.

    The unemployment rate in Jamaica is at about 13.4% (March 2014), trending down from 15.2% at the end of 2013. In a fairly young population, youth unemployment is more than twice the national rate. However, Jamaica’s skilled labor force and strong social and governance indicators are amongst its key assets. To restore self-sustaining and job-creating growth, Jamaica will have to improve its international competitiveness and productivity, while also tackling urgent short-term economic and social needs.

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

    Last Updated: Oct 02, 2014

    Jamaica: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

    The World Bank has worked closely with Jamaica since the country gained its independence in 1962. Since then, the Bank has been actively engaged in extending credit and development assistance to the country through several projects 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 the country’s national development plan ‘Vision 2030 Jamaica’, a new World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-2017, aimed at supporting efforts to create conditions for sustained and inclusive growth, 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: Oct 02, 2014

    Jamaica: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

    The World Bank currently has nine ongoing projects in Jamaica:

    The Social Protection Project (US$80 million Additional financing approved in 2014) seeks to strengthen the country’s social insurance and social assistance system and will continue to support the PATH program..

    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 Approved 2014) co-finances the implementation of Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development by improving services for young children and their parents.

    The Education Transformation Capacity Building Project (US$16 million) supports the implementation of the national Education System Transformation Program (ESTP).

    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 the second phase of the recently closed JM Inner City Basic Services for the Poor Project with the goal of enhancing 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.

    Three new projects were launched early in the current fiscal year (July 2014) to reinforce the pillars of the new CPS for Jamaica and supplement gaps in the portfolio.

    The JM 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. There are five components to the project, the first component being strengthening the Public Investment Management System (PIMS).

    The JM 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. The project comprises of five components. The first component, skills and capacity to enhance employability and entrepreneurship will build capacity and skills of Jamaican youth to improve employability in the growing animation industry and in the global online labor market, and provide critical skills to young tech entrepreneurs

    The 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 (TA) and implementation support to address critical business regulation and procedural issues that constrain firm entry, operation and expansion, competition, and trade and logistics.

    The Bank also provides grant funding to Jamaica. Currently, there are four grants under implementation of about US$5.9 million the most recent of which is the Jamaica Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project (US$3 million) which supports affirmative action for vulnerable citizens to access foundational education and social services.

    Last Updated: Oct 02, 2014

    Jamaica: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
    *Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments
Country Office Contacts
JAMAICA +876 960-0459

Courtleigh Corporate Centre, 3rd Floor. 6 St. Lucia Avenue, Kingston
USA +1 458-2656

1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433