Jamaica. According to Countryaah, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced in February that the government would renegotiate its foreign loans with various creditors for the second time in three years to deal with the country’s economic crisis. The renegotiations were also a requirement for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to grant Jamaica new loans of just over $ 600 million. Government debt – both foreign and domestic loans – represented 149% of GDP at the beginning of 2013, among the highest debt in the world in terms of GDP.
More than half of the government’s budget was spent on interest payments in 2013 and a quarter of the budget was used for salaries. As a result, only one fifth left for healthcare, education and other necessities. According to Finance Minister Peter Phillips, the government’s debt payments should be down to 8.5% of GDP in 2020. The terms of the new four-year loan from the IMF were, in addition to lower borrowing costs, that the government would reduce wage costs in the public sector.
In November, Parliament passed a new milder law on slander instead of the old one, which often led to convictions and high damages to the country’s media. The media had long complained about the advocacy law, based on old British legislation, which they believe threatened freedom of speech. Individuals who commented on, for example, corruption-suspected politicians, and media who published the statements were easily convicted and often forced to pay high damages. The change in the law makes it much more difficult to convict individuals and media for slander. In addition, judges should, rather than previous juries, decide damages issues. The Press Association Press Association of Jamaica welcomed the law that has been investigated for several years.