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Country Report Jamaica September 2017

Country Report Jamaica September 2017

  • September 2017
  • ID: 2358818


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Outlook for 2017-21

  • The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government will retain public support in the short term, but will come under pressure as it enacts unpopular public-sector reforms, agreed upon with the IMF, amid a tepid economic recovery.
  • Peter Phillips, the new president of the opposition People's National Party (PNP), will steer the party to the left, capitalising on the JLP's austerity programme and its failure to stem violence, but the JLP will remain in power.
  • Fiscal austerity, weak domestic demand and a hefty debt burden will limit growth. GDP expansion will pick up to an average of 1.6% in 2017-19 before slowing in 2020 amid weaker US growth. It will recover slightly in 2021.
  • Having met IMF fiscal targets for fiscal year 2016/17 (April-March), the government will continue to deliver large primary surpluses, but austerity fatigue will raise the risk of delays in reforms, especially in the public sector.
  • After a policy rate cut from 3.75% to 3.5% in August, The Economist Intelligence Unit does not expect further easing this year. Inflation will fall from 4.6% at the end of 2017 and to an annual average of just below 4% in 2018-21.
  • Monthly real currency depreciation will accelerate slightly in the short term owing to policy-rate cuts. However, real weakening will be moderate in the forecast period, averaging 1.5% annually in 2017-21.
  • The current-account deficit will widen to an average of 2.5% in 2017-21, driven by larger trade and income deficits and a smaller services surplus. However, the deficit will remain relatively small by historical comparison.


  • On September 1st the prime minister declared the district of Mount Salem the first Zone of Special Operations, giving the police greater search and arrest powers to combat violent crime. So far in 2017, murders have increased by 24% year on year.
  • Consumer prices gained by 0.6% month on month in July, bringing 12-month inflation to 4.5, owing to high food prices and tax increases.
  • In late August the Bank of Jamaica (the central bank) cut the overnight lending rate, which has been the monetary policy rate since July 1st, by 25 basis points, to 3.5%.
  • The government reopened two Eurobonds, maturing in 2028 and 2045, and raised US$505m and US$364m at yields of 5% and 6.45% respectively. The issuance is intended to buy back more costly debt maturing in 2019-25.
  • Members of the PNP voiced concern over a perceived increase of Chinese investment in the local construction sector. The party subsequently apolo-gised to Chinese diplomats in Jamaica.

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