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Strengthening debt management in Jamaica

2009 - 2012
Prudent debt management practice in many Commonwealth countries remains a challenge. The reasons for this are multiple, and include: lack of adequate management information systems, lack of clear governance and institutional structures, and lack of capacity among staff.

In 2009 the Government of Jamaica recognised that its decentralised system of cash management – with a number of public bodies maintaining large cash balances in the banking system – needed reforming if savings were to be made.

Commonwealth response: 

Following a request for assistance from Jamaica’s Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Secretariat reviewed and proposed key recommendations for institutional and functional structure for Jamaica to establish a Central Treasury Management System.  The Secretariat also provided advice on the drafting of a new Public Debt Management Act, and the restructuring of the Debt Management Unit of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

The goal of this intervention was to facilitate the establishment of effective cash and public debt management in the country, which is key to reducing the risk of debt distress and establishing the enabling environment for sustainable national development.


Policy support from the Secretariat facilitated the establishment of a re-organised Debt Management Office along modern and functional job responsibilities, enactment of a comprehensive Public Debt Management Act that promotes prudent debt management and governance, and paved the way for efficient public financial management through the establishment of a Central Treasury Management System.

Secretariat advice has also delivered other policy, institutional, and legal reforms that have been put in place by the Ministry of Finance and Public Service. This included the successful completion of the market-led National Debt Exchange process concluded in March 2013. The debt exchange had a very high participation rate of 98 per cent from domestic bond holders. It is expected that the debt restructuring will result in an annual cost savings of Jamaican $19 million and reduce the public debt burden by 8.5 per cent of its GDP by 2020.