Tue | Aug 22, 2017

New watchdogs - Tripartite committees to monitor IMF agreement

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2016 | 11:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) congratulates Keith Duncan (centre) and Danny Roberts following the announcement of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) and Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (P-STOC) at Jamaica House in St Andrew yesterday.

Even as the Government yesterday announced a three-pronged approach to overseeing the new arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), co-chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Keith Duncan, is assuring Jamaicans that he intends to be diligent, transparent and honest in monitoring the fiscal and monetary indicators under the new precautionary stand-by agreement with the Fund.

Indicating that he would be forthright in carrying out his duties, the new co-chair told The Gleaner yesterday that EPOC would share with the Jamaican public in a timely manner its assessment of the programme.

The board of the IMF approved the precautionary standby agreement with Jamaica on November 11.

Duncan, an investment banker who has served previously on EPOC, said the committee would provide, at a minimum, quarterly reports, but noted that he would first have dialogue with the other members of the committee to work out an arrangement to update the public on its monitoring of the IMF agreement. EPOC will be co-chaired by Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter, while the other members of the committee remain unchanged.

Duncan is group chief executive officer of JMMB, a financial company with more than 200,000 clients in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Dominican Republic.

The new EPOC co-chair's comments came yesterday following Prime Minister Andrew Holness' announcement of a tripartite monitoring mechanism to oversee different aspects of the new agreement with the IMF.

"It is very important that the Government be kept on its toes. There is no room for error on the IMF programme. You play a very important role in ensuring that the Government and the country's policies are kept on track," Holness told Duncan yesterday during a press conference held at the Banquet Hall, Jamaica House.

Holness, who explained that the new agreement with the IMF was much broader than the previous Extended Fund Facility, said the Government had taken steps to deepen, broaden and diversify the monitoring framework.

"The GOJ has, therefore, instituted a domestic monitoring arrangement whereby a reconstituted and renewed Economic Programme Oversight Committee will monitor implementation of fiscal, monetary and quantitative performance targets as set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) agreed with the IMF.

"We have given great consideration to ensure that the social consensus building is [as] strong as it was in the previous programme; it will be even stronger under the new programme," the prime minister added.

Holness also announced the establishment of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (P-STOC), which will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the public-sector transformation programme and social protection targets as set out in the MEFP.

P-STOC will be co-chaired by president of the Hugh Lawson Trade Union Education Institute, Danny Roberts, and Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Douglas Saunders.

The prime minister said Saunders has been asked to co-chair in his capacity as head of the public service to ensure that the rights and interests of public-sector workers are protected in the transformation process.

Roberts told The Gleaner that P-STOC has the task of monitoring the public-sector transformation process and to ensure that the timelines set in the IMF agreement are met. He said much of the committee's work would be supported by a secretariat, noting that "what we need to ensure is that we are on top of the work to find out whatever difficulties or challenges that there may be and to try and use our best influences to ensure that those are cleared."

He also reminded the gathering that the Economic Growth Council would monitor the implementation of growth policies and outcomes as set out in the MEFP agreed with the IMF.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com