Overview

  • Jamaica is the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean, and the most populated with 2.93 million people. Like its neighbors, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters - such as hurricanes and flooding - and the effects of climate change. It is an upper middle-income economy that is nevertheless struggling due to low growth, high public debt, and exposure to external shocks.

    In 2013, Jamaica launched an ambitious reform program to stabilize the economy, reduce debt, and fuel growth, gaining national and international support.

    Public debt fell below 100% of GDP in 2018/19 and is expected to decline below 60% by 2025/26, in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Law.  The rate of unemployment also fell to a historic low of 7.8% in April 2019, which is almost half the rate at the start of the reform program.

    The Jamaican economy grew year-on-year 1.5% in 2018, bolstered by private consumption and external demand, as there was some slowdown in investments and government consumption. Growth is expected to accelerate to an average of 2% over the medium-term.  

    Inequality in Jamaica is lower than in most countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region, but poverty at 17% in 2016 is still significant. Stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity. Crime and violence levels remain high, emphasizing the need to address the issues of youth unemployment, education, and social cohesion.

    Poverty is expected to decline further with rising per-capita GDP, lower unemployment, and strengthened safety nets. 

    Last Updated: Oct 07, 2019

  • Since 2013, the World Bank Group (WBG) has provided more than US$500 million of development policy and investment financing to Jamaica, helping to support private sector-led growth, public sector transformation, and social and climate resilience. The WBG’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-19 is aligned with Jamaica’s Vision 2030, with focuses on:

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

    ·       Private sector-led growth by improving the business climate and fostering investment 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. 

    In addition, the WBG has provided two grants to help the country improve its management of climate data and information and support the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities.

    This year, the WBG is marking 55 years of partnership with Jamaica, and over this time has provided over US$3 billion in loan and grant financing, as well as knowledge and advisory support in key areas such as education and early childhood development, infrastructure, agriculture, and the power sector.

    The IFC, the private-sector arm of the WBG, works across a broad range of sectors in Jamaica, including financial markets, infrastructure, information and communications technology, and manufacturing and services.

    Last Updated: Oct 07, 2019

  • Government and private sector projects financed by the World Bank Group have achieved important results in recent years. Some highlights include:

    ·       More than 387,000 Jamaicans have benefited from the government’s Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), a conditional cash transfer program that helps improve school attendance and health visits of children in poor households, putting families on a better path, and building the country’s human capital.

    ·       The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is helping improve market access for micro- and small-scale farmers and their service providers by supporting revenue-generating activities in agriculture and tourism, while also providing critical infrastructure, marketing, and management support. More than 1,400 farmers have benefited from improved technology, training, and access to markets. A Second REDI project will scale up investments and will benefit more than 20,000 individual beneficiaries—of which an estimated 40% will be women and 30% youths.

    ·       An education “passport” has been implemented to track the growth and progress of each Jamaican child in their first few years of life, while also setting the quality standards for Early Childhood Development 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 improving infrastructure such as solar street lighting, water supply systems, solid waste management, the installation of fire hydrants, and introducing violence interrupters and school-based violence prevention. 362 young people were trained in entrepreneurship, CPR and first aid, community mediation, and restorative justice.

    ·       The Jamaica Energy Security and Efficiency Enhancement Project has supported the development of regulations and policies for renewable energy and natural gas, contributing to an increase of generation capacity from 9% at the start of the project, to 12% in 2017, and expected to reach over 20% in 2030.

    ·       With support from the Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project, formal participatory budgeting has become part of the annual budgeting process in Jamaica since 2015, strengthening the management of public investments. A public investment management system has been put in place to help policymakers provide better governance of public investments.

    ·       The Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries Project is building on successful pilots in the Digital Jam and KingstOOn events, with more than 4,000 young Jamaicans engaged in digital enterprises, supporting the growth of the Jamaican animation training and industry.

    ·       As disaster risk management has become a key priority for Jamaica, the Climate Data and Information Management Project is helping improve collection and analysis of climate data, and strengthening early warning systems. The Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP) is helping enhance physical resilience to disasters. The Bank is supporting Jamaica to elaborate and put in place a comprehensive disaster risk financing architecture.

    ·       IFC supported the BMR Jamaica Wind Project, a 36-megawatt wind farm which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year, equivalent to taking roughly 13,000 cars off the road.

    ·       IFC has worked with several financial institutions to establish SME best practices, improving the bank’s reach to a financially underserved sector. 

    ·       In agriculture, IFC worked with Jamaican coffee producers to help increase the quality and quantity of coffee grown and processed through a combination of activities focused on improving genetics, sharing best practices in agronomy, and creating inclusive business models. IFC also advised a group of Jamaican producers of sauces and spices on how to strengthen the value chain of SMEs in the sector by enhancing market linkages, using market feedback to address supply-side coordination failures, and improving the food safety standards of firms.

    ·       IFC is also working with the Government of Jamaica on several advisory projects to improve the secured transactions environment, support e-titling with the land agency, build a trade portal with key information on goods exports and imports, and support investment climate reforms for doing business in the country.

    ·       Recently IFC worked with the Jamaican government to improve the regulatory, institutional, and administrative framework for business taxation in addition to advising on the public-private-partnership concession for the Norman Manley International Airport, which will improve airport access and quality of services for passengers, expand infrastructure capacity, and spur private investment. 

    Last Updated: Oct 07, 2019

Api


LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

More Photos Arrow

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Dominican Republic
Alejandra De La Paz
adelapaz@worldbank.org