For a nation that has endured significant economic challenges for too many years, and, over the past four years, has been taking critical steps to pull itself forward, the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) is a very important and accountable body to ensure we remain on our path towards sustainable development.
Even by sounding the alarm if our programme is derailed, that is a small, but vital part of the role of this body. In fact, every Jamaican has a stake in staying the course towards growth. While Vision 2030, our National Development Plan, represents a road map that we have set for ourselves, the programmes we have entered in via the IMF are ours to take us to our destination.
When Jamaica hits our macroeconomic, growth, fiscal and monetary targets, we will have a stronger economy, which will create jobs and generally increase earnings across the board. We all need to get involved, to take ownership of our Jamaica and our future.
The Jamaica we aspire towards and even crave, is well described in our Vision 2030. “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.
Over the past four years or so Jamaica has built a significant amount of credibility and confidence with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), other multilateral organisations, the local and international investment community, as well as the wider local communities and the Diaspora. All the hard-fought achievements have resulted in Jamaica receiving several credit rating upgrades, which really indicates greater confidence in our country.
These achievements have given us a real opportunity to consolidate and move our Economy on to a sustainable growth.
We transitioned from the successfully concluded IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) into a new Economic Programme the Precautionary Stand-by Arrangement (PSBA) which commenced on November 11, 2016.
This Precautionary Standby Agreement is not a borrowing arrangement but more like a credit line of US$1.64b that we can increasingly draw down on over time if the Country was to face external shocks, steep increase in oil prices, fallout in earnings from tourism, significant fallout in the Economy or even Natural disasters.
There are several reforms that we must undertake under this new arrangement. These changes include adjustments to the public sector wage bill, the system governing taxes and other critical monetary factors which will push us towards our goal.
With the certain knowledge that we have the courage, the tenacity and the discipline to stick with a stringent and difficult Economic Reform programme, we know that we can and we must sustain this effort going forward.
Our job at the EPOC continues to be to support the process of maintaining public awareness and to play an effective monitoring role. EPOC will continue to hold our Government accountable for this new Economic Programme, primarily as it relates to the fiscal and monetary policy commitments that we have made.
Join the effort, Jamaica belongs to all of us.