EPOC to continue monitoring role after IMF agreement ends
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke (left) with EPOC chairman Keith Duncan following the signing of an MOU that will see EPOC maintain its monitoring role in Jamaica's economic reform programme. (PHOTO: Marlon Reid)
The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) will continue monitoring Jamaica's economic reform programme after the expiration of the Precautionary Stand-By Agreement between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November of this year.
A Memorandum of Understanding for the continuation of the programme was signed Thursday morning at the Heroes Circle office of the Ministry of Finance and Public Service.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said the MOU with EPOC is expected to continue until legislation for a fiscal council and the modernisation of the central bank giving it independence in implementing monetary policy are in place.
"Today we are empowering EPOC to continue in its monitoring role until the fiscal council commitments are operationalised," Clarke said.
"In November, Jamaica expects to successfully complete the Precautionary Stand-By Agreement with the IMF. This follows on the success of the extended fund facility with the IMF in November of 2016," Clarke continued. "Together this represents approximately 6.5 years of successful programme implementation in the context of successive IMF programmes. Over this period, Jamaica's debt has been reduced significantly, macroeconomic stability has become entrenched, economic growth has returned and there has been substantial growth in employment."
According to Clarke, Jamaica's macroeconomic success over the six-and-a-half years of the IMF programme is a Jamaican success story being told and recognised around the world. He said it is as a result of the sacrifice and determination of the Jamaican people, who the government owes and must build on the gains.
Clarke said the IMF and the government have agreed that the IMF will keep its offices in Jamaica open for two years after the agreement ends.
He said, "these decisions are clear demonstrations of the government's commitment and intent to maintain a credible macroeconomic path, inclusive of a fiscal trajectory that is consistent with our fiscal responsibility framework, long into the future, providing the foundation for economic opportunity for current and future generations."
Meanwhile, EPOC chairman Keith Duncan said EPOC members fully approve of the arrangement.
Duncan said, "we believe it is important that this monetary mechanism continues to be in place until we are comfortable that institutional arrangements that are in place, are adequate, suitable and have sufficient capacity to be able to deliver.
"We are confident that this will happen, based on the work, based on the engagement that is occurring with the industry, with the EPOC and with other members of the society," he said.
The Committee will have a broader base to include Civil Society members, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Jamaica for the extension of its monitoring role.
The Civil Society parties that were signatory to the agreement were: Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, MSME Alliance, and Main Domestic Creditors comprising JMMB, Sagicor Jamaica, NCB and BNS.