Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Phillips to lead Caribbean charge at meeting with G20

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Phillips

The G20 Development Working Group has asked Jamaica to co-chair discussions on the peculiar challenges in Caribbean countries at its Spring meeting to be held in Washington, United States, later this month.

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips is to lead a delegation to the North American country from April 12 to 19, to participate in discussions being organised by the G20 Development Working Group, the Paris Club, and the G-24 group.

Financial Secretary Devon Rowe, Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter, and head of the Planning Institute of Jamaica Collin Bullock will also make the trip.

"The IMF [International Monetary Fund]/IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] Spring meetings provide a forum for discussions among governors of central banks, high-level authorities of member countries, representatives of multilateral financial institutions, development agencies, investment banks and commercial interests," said Sandrea Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information.

Falconer said during the weekly Jamaica House press briefing yesterday, that Phillips "will have an opportunity for formal discussions with critical stakeholders on the policies being pursued by the Government to achieve macroeconomic stability, economic growth and development".

Seventh review completed

Jamaica is currently in the midst of an economic reform programme, which is being overseen by the IMF. On Monday, the Executive Board of the Fund completed the seventh review of Jamaica's economic performance under the programme.

Mitsuhiro Furusawa, deputy managing director and acting chair, said Jamaica's programme performance is on track and all quantitative performance targets for end-December were met. Structural reforms have progressed broadly on schedule.

"Macroeconomic performance continues to be good and economic confidence has reached a two-year peak. The decline in oil prices should help lower inflation expectations and boost demand. Still, stepping up the pace of reforms is essential to boost growth and employment. Bold efforts are needed to reform the energy sector, improve the business climate, and advance investment in critical infrastructure," he said.

Yesterday, Densil Williams, head of the Mona School of Business and Management, said being asked to co-chair a session is "a sign of confidence in the economy".

He also noted that because the Caribbean consists of small, open economies, the region is susceptible to natural disasters, trade shocks and climate change.

"Those things can make a great determination in terms of whether you meet a budget-deficit target, or you are able to balance your budget in a financial year, or you are able to run a budget surplus ...; you can just have a hurricane and it wipes out your budget target for that year," Williams said.

The G20 Development Working Group was established in 2010, and is responsible for implementing the G20 Development Agenda, which includes increase financing, for infrastructure investment in developing countries.

The G20 have also said it would do more to create the right conditions in developing countries to attract private-sector investment, and assist developing countries combat tax avoidance by multinational enterprises, and automatically share tax information.

Food security

G20 members have also committed support to the development agenda through further work in food security.

Last October, Phillips urged the G20 to make good on its promise to assist the Caribbean region to mitigate the effects of the financial recession of 2008.

Speaking during a Caribbean breakfast and caucus meeting in Washington DC, Phillips expressed concern that the group of major economies has not kept its promise to provide financial support to assist the region.

"We continue to suffer because the expectations that were generated in 2008, coming out of the first meeting of the G20 nations, for resources to alleviate the plight of the region that was hardest hit by the crisis, have been unfulfilled," he stated.

Phillips said there is urgent need for the G20 to fulfill its promise, citing the region's high debt burden, climatic vulnerabilities, along with energy insecurities.

The G20 is a forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. The members include 19 individual countries - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, The Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union.