WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Directors today endorsed the Jamaica-World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the next four years, which outlines future financial and technical assistance to foster economic stability as well as promote inclusive and sustained growth.
“The new partnership strategy will support the government’s efforts to set the country on a path of greater socioeconomic stability and sustained growth. This strategy reflects Jamaica’s priority development areas,” said Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Director for the Caribbean.
Despite the country’s political stability, location, language, and natural resource endowments, Jamaica’s development achievements have lagged behind countries at similar income levels. Nevertheless, Jamaica has recorded a number of positive achievements, including a significant reduction in poverty levels from 28.4 percent in 1989 to 9.9 percent in 2007. Jamaica is also on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) , including those for halving poverty, achieving universal primary education, and halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015.
The 2009 financial crisis has negatively impacted tourism receipts, remittances and the bauxite industry. Together with a high debt overhang, high levels of youth unemployment and violent crime, the country is severely constrained as it seeks to undertake needed policies to overcome the crisis and protect past social gains. In addition, Jamaica remains vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of global climate change.
The Bank’s new partnership strategy for Jamaica is the result of close collaboration with the government and has benefited from wide consultations with parliamentarians, representatives of the private sector, civil society, youth organizations, trade unions and other international organizations.
The strategy focuses on three pillars:
- Support economic stability through fiscal and debt sustainability. Bank assistance seeks to enhance fiscal reporting and accountability by consolidating all public body accounts into a central government budget process. Additionally, the Bank will continue to support the government’s debt management to improve its overall fiscal deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio. Budgetary support will be complemented with analytical and advisory services to support reform implementation.
- Promote inclusive growth by supporting programs that strengthen human capital, prevent crime and violence and promote rural development. In particular,
- Strengthen human capital by improving the quality of and access to secondary education, which includes a more decentralized education system and the construction of new schools to eliminate the shift system. This area also targets an increase in the number of early childhood institutions that are registered and meet the minimum standards. These projects will be complemented by an ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention and control project and another one addressing the shortage of skills and education of the workforce, along with a poverty assessment, and a series of regional studies on labor markets and non-communicable diseases.
- Prevent crime and violence by improving the quality of life in 12 inner city communities through improved access to basic urban infrastructure, financial services, land tenure regularization, enhanced community capacity, and improvements in public safety.
- Promote rural development through training to small-scale agricultural producers so that they are better integrated with the tourism sector, rest of the economy and export markets.
- Promote sustained growth. This pillar will further improve competitiveness by supporting activities related to energy, investment climate, regional communications, transport and logistics, in close collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. In addition, an infrastructure study will help to better understand the linkages between public capital and private investments for development.
“This strategy was developed following extensive and transparent consultations with stakeholders in the country. It is designed to address Jamaica’s short- and medium-term development challenges,” said Badrul Haque, World Bank Special Representative in Jamaica. “Selectivity and complementarity with other development partners have been important considerations.”
The Bank’s program will be complemented by support from the IFC through its financing and advisory services, focused on improving investment climate, financial market development, energy and access to finance, infrastructure, tourism and emerging sectors in health, education and information technology.