Jamaica is a small island nation in the Caribbean with a population of about 2.7 million people and a GDP of about $15 billion. The country has a mixed economy that is increasingly based on services, notably tourism, and finance. Jamaica also has natural resources such as bauxite, alumina, and agricultural products that contribute to its exports.
Jamaica has faced many economic challenges since its independence in 1962, such as low growth, high debt, fiscal deficits, inflation, unemployment, poverty, crime, and violence. However, in recent years, Jamaica has made significant progress in implementing structural reforms and achieving macroeconomic stability. The country has also benefited from favorable external conditions such as low oil prices and high remittances.
Some of the main achievements of Jamaica’s economic transformation include:
- Reducing public debt from over 140% of GDP in 2013 to about 100% of GDP in 2017
- Maintaining fiscal surpluses since 2014 and building up international reserves
- Lowering inflation to single digits and stabilizing the exchange rate
- Improving access to credit and financial inclusion
- Enhancing competitiveness and business climate
- Diversifying export markets and attracting foreign direct investment
- Strengthening social protection and reducing poverty
These achievements have been supported by strong policy commitment from successive governments and close collaboration with international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group (WBG), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Jamaica successfully completed two consecutive IMF programs: an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) from 2013 to 2016 and a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) from 2016 to 2019. The country also received financial and technical assistance from the WBG and the IDB under their respective Country Partnership Strategies.
As a result of these efforts, Jamaica’s economy is expected to grow at 1-2% over the medium term, which is higher than its historical average but still below its potential. The country faces several challenges that constrain its growth prospects, such as:
- Low productivity and innovation
- High energy costs and environmental vulnerabilities
- Limited human capital development and skills mismatch
- High informality and inequality
- Persistent crime and violence
To overcome these challenges, Jamaica needs to pursue further reforms that foster private sector-led growth, enhance resilience to shocks, improve social outcomes, and promote inclusive development. Some of the key priorities include:
- Investing in infrastructure and digital transformation
- Promoting green growth and climate change adaptation
- Improving education quality and labor market relevance
- Expanding social protection coverage and targeting efficiency
- Strengthening governance institutions
The WBG remains committed to supporting Jamaica’s development agenda through its new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for FY2020-FY2024. The CPF focuses on three strategic areas: enhancing human capital; strengthening climate resilience; fostering private sector development.
The CPF aligns with Jamaica’s Vision 2030 National Development Plan which aims to make Jamaica “the place of choice to live,
and do business”. The CPF also leverages synergies with other development partners under a coordinated framework.
Jamaica has demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination in overcoming its economic difficulties. With continued reform efforts,
and strong partnerships,
the country can achieve sustainably,
and equitable growth for all Jamaicans.