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 many 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. By 2012 Jamaica had accumulated debt equal to 145 percent of GDP.

    To stabilize the economy, reduce debt and fuel growth, the Government is implementing an ambitious reform program which has garnered national and international support. As part of a comprehensive package, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank each agreed to provide US$510 million between April 2013 and March 2017, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committed a US$932 million funding program through its Extended Fund Facility (EFF) covering the same four-year period. At the end of 2016, the IMF approved a three-year US$1.64 billion program under the Stand-By Arrangement 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 institutional reforms and efforts to improve the investment climate starting to bear fruit. The country’s credit rating has improved and Jamaican bonds trade at a premium in international markets. Total government debt fell to 121 percent of GDP by the end of 2016.

    Jamaica’s GDP rose by 1.4 percent in 2016 and similar growth is expected in 2017. That follows three years of steady growth. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), poverty fell to 20 percent in 2014 from 25 percent in 2013, but it still remains higher than pre-2009 levels.

    Despite the progress, faster economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity. Crime and violence levels remain high. Youth unemployment is a persistent problem. Unemployment in April 2017 was about 12.2 percent, while 26.2 percent of those between 20 and 24 years of age were unemployed, according to STATIN. 

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017

  • 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

    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: Sep 29, 2017

  • 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.

    ·       The BMR Jamaica 36 megawatt Wind Project- the country’s largest private-sector renewable energy project supported by IFC -will help diversify the country’s energy matrix and ease the dependence on imported fossil fuels.

    ·       IFC helped the Jamaican government license its first two credit bureau operators.

    ·       IFC has made four investments in the Sangster International Airport – Montego Bay. 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: Sep 29, 2017

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

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