Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Kudos to Byles, Vin Lawrence, says PSOJ

Published:Friday | February 17, 2017 | 2:08 PM

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has expressed gratitude to Richard Byles, former co-chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) and Dr. Vincent Lawrence, former chair of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) for their invaluable contribution to the economic and energy sectors.

“EPOC has become a well-recognised institution globally and is now being touted as an example for any country that is serious about economic reform,” the PSOJ said in a release.

“This is a significant accomplishment which owes its success in many respects to Mr. Byles’ determination and business acumen,” the Organisation said.

It added that “as a member of the PSOJ, the organisation is extremely proud of the contribution Mr. Byles has made and we look forward to working with him as we continue to advocate for improved economic and social practices in Jamaica.”

EPOC consists of persons from the private and public sector as well as civil society, who received and reviewed information from the government on the progress of implementation of the memorandum of economic and financial policies over the life of the International Monetary IMF's Extended Fund Facility.

It also assisted in ensuring the agreed targets were achieved and advised the public through the media of any concerns or developments.

During the life of the EFF, Byles issued 41communiques – between May 22, 2013 and October 14, 2016 – on behalf of the non-public sector members of the Committee dealing with the government’s performance on key fiscal and monetary indicators.

EPOC was retained by the Andrew Holness-led government to monitor the IMF’s successor programme, a three-year standby agreement.

However, Byles, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica, relinquished his co-chair position to JMMB Group Chief Executive Officer, Keith Duncan while remaining a member of the committee.

The PSOJ said Dr. Lawrence’s understanding of the energy sector aided significantly with the recommendations and decisions taken to assist the country with not only finding the right energy solutions, but ensuring the timely implementation.

“His diligence and professional approach to this task made the difference in ensuring that one of Jamaica’s biggest challenges, which we have been grappling with for a long time, was successfully dealt with,” the Organisation said.

In 2014, amid concerns about the integrity of the bidding process for the development and construction of new coal-fired power plants and for the delivery of liquefied natural gas, the then People's National Party administration set up ESET with the mandate of establishing a demand and investment framework for the sector.

Dr. Lawrence told The Gleaner in December 2016 that he would be stepping down saying they were at the stage where they had done all the work they were mandated to do, except closing financing on a Jamaica Public Service Company project, which they had hope to finish that month.

- mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com