The Economic Programme Oversight Committee’s (EPOC) role in monitoring Jamaica’s economic reform programme will continue beyond the end of the Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (PSBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2019.
This was announced by Hon Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and the Public Service at a press conference on 22nd August.
He noted that the Committee will have a broader base to include Civil Society members, who this morning signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Jamaica for the extension of its monitoring role.
The Minister has appointed the current Co-Chair of EPOC, Keith Duncan, to be Chairman of the expanded Committee.
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.
Dr Clarke stated, “Today we are empowering EPOC to continue in its monitoring role until (the Government’s) policy commitments are operationalized.”
He referred to the agreement made with the IMF to maintain its office in Jamaica for another two years after the end of the PSBA, and stated: “These decisions are a demonstration of our commitment to maintaining a credible and sustainable macro-economic path, including a fiscal trajectory that is consistent with our fiscal responsibility law, long into the future that provides the foundation of economic opportunity for the current and future generations.”
Chairman Keith Duncan stated: “We believe that it is extremely important that civil society has a voice in Jamaica’s economic programme; that we are plugged in, that we understand where we are in this programme, what our targets are, where we are going as a country as we move towards economic independence.”
He continued, “We’ve already seen the fruits of fiscal responsibility in relation to our ability to invest in capital expenditure, in infrastructure and this year, in national security apparatus.”
As Jamaica moves towards significantly reducing its debt by 2025/26, Duncan noted: “We can only imagine the kind of resources that would be freed up for wider Jamaica, for the investment in our people.”