Co-Chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, Keith Duncan, says he’s hopeful the government’s main anti-crime initiative, the Zones of Special Operations, will help to reduce crime.

He says the country needs to feel the government is ‘on top of crime’, arguing this will spur improved economic performance. But the EPOC Co-Chair says the government will have to do more than implement zones of special operations in high crime areas. He was speaking today at EPOC’s quarterly media briefing in Kingston.

Mr. Duncan today gave the latest update on the country’s performance under the IMF Precautionary Standby Arrangement. It was largely a positive review. But crime was again flagged as a critical issue to deal with as it’s stifling the economy.

It’s now six days since the government declared Mount Salem, in St. James, its first zone of special operations in a bid to reduce rampant criminality and restore law and order.

And, the EPOC Co-Chair is hopeful the zones will be effective in reducing crime.

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The second quarter of the calendar year recorded an unimpressive 0.3-percent growth.

Again highlighting the issue of crime, Mr. Duncan lamented what he sees as poor growth.

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The Planning Institute of Jamaica says the 0.3-percent growth between April and June was mainly due to bad weather impacting agriculture and mining. Still, Mr. Duncan gave good news today. He says he’s confident the country will pass the upcoming test under the IMF Precautionary Standby Arrangement.

According to him, Jamaica has surpassed all quantitative benchmarks for the review period.

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A team from IMF is on the island conducting the second review of Jamaica’s performance up to June.