The Gleaner, Jamaica: Jamaica will be looking to tap into International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Finance Ministry today said.

In a statement, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke did not reveal the amount of money being sought but said the request was made yesterday for access to the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).

He further explained that the RFI provides financial support to IMF member countries with balance of payment needs but without the requirement of having a “full-fledged” IMF programme, ongoing reviews and conditionality.

Last week, the IMF substantially increased the amounts that member countries may access under the rapid financing instrument.

According to Clarke, Jamaica enjoys a reasonable stock of foreign reserves and there are contingency financing options:

(i) The availability of cash resources programmed for accelerated debt repayment
(ii) The availability of domestic sources of financing
(iii) Untapped capacity available from other multilateral institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, including by redirecting existing projects.

Clarke noted that despite these mitigating factors, which provide for Jamaica to absorb economic shocks, the duration of the “global lockdown” is highly uncertain.

“The open-ended nature of the pandemic and its economic spillovers therefore pose intolerable balance of payments risks to Jamaica that threaten the economic gains of our seven-year reform effort,” he said.

Last year Jamaica and the IMF came to an agreement for the IMF to continue to maintain an office in Kingston for two years.