Kingston, Jamaica – February 5, 2020: Based on the preliminary performance results to date through end-November 2019, the GOJ is on track to meet the Quantitative Performance Targets for the GOJ ERP for end-December 2019, with the exception of the inflation target.
Selected Quantitative Performance Targets and Policy Actions Status Updates
The World Economic Outlook (WEO) is projecting global growth to rise from an estimated 2.9% in 2019 to 3.3% in 2020 while growth in the Latin American and Caribbean region is expected to rebound to 1.6% in 2020. The Planning Institute of Jamaica projects Jamaica’s real GDP growth for the fiscal year 2019/20 to fall within the range of 0.0%–1.0%.
EPOC concurs with the view of the PIOJ that growth will be low for the remainder of the fiscal year 2019/20. However, EPOC expects that going forward through 2020-2022, as the impact of the fallout from mining is behind us, growth should begin to get back to the 2% growth levels.
While point-to-point inflation of 6.2% as at December 2019 was outside of the BOJ target range, it is expected to be temporary and the BOJ will maintain its accommodative monetary stance. The most recent survey of business expectations by BOJ expects inflation for the next 12 months ending November 2020 to be 5.0 percent owing largely to inflationary trends and exchange rate.
This accommodative stance continues to spur Credit growth from the Deposit taking Institutions as credit to businesses and households increased by 15.5% between September 2018 to September 2019.
As at December 31, Jamaica’s net international reserves are healthy at US$3.16B, non-borrowed reserves at US$2.821B exceed the target of US$2.343B. Gross international reserves continue to exceed programme targets and exceed the international adequacy benchmark.
The fiscal performance continues to be strong as tax revenues as December 31 came in at J$414.7B continue to outperform budget and the first supplementary budget targets of J$407.1B which led to a second supplementary budget being tabled in parliament for Fiscal year 2019/20.
Foreign Exchange Market
There continues to be market apprehension and a heightened uncertainty around the volatility of the exchange rate, the BOJ continues to consult with the market in an effort to reduce volatility and smooth out demand and supply imbalances. The BOJ recently introduced a FX Swap Arrangement and is encouraging authorized dealers and cambios to further deepen the market through the introduction of forward contracts while looking to implement the electronic trading platform in early 2020 which will provide greater transparency and price discovery for market players.
EPOC acknowledges BOJ’s efforts to deepen the FX market and notes the ongoing consultations with the Jamaica Bankers Association and other key stakeholders in the market.
EPOC is hopeful that as the reforms in the FX market take hold, volatility levels and the swings in the currency could be reduced. However, Jamaica is only a very small player in the global FX market and will always be exposed to and not insulated from volatility and movements in the international FX market.
EPOC Post IMF
Following the completion of the three-year Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (PSBA) with the IMF as at November 2019, EPOC continues to serve under a new Memorandum of Understanding. Under this agreement, EPOCs extended period of service will be aligned with the establishment of the Fiscal Council and completion of activities related to the Central Bank achieving Independent status.