Stay the course --- Government urged to maintain fiscal discipline
Dr Wayne Henry, vice-president of government affairs at Scotiabank Jamaica Limited Bank, says despite the government's success under the Extended Fund Facility, Jamaica's economic programme remains fragile and care must be taken not to shift focus at this time.
Dr Henry noted that the Government has passed five tests so far under the
programme, which is commendable, but said stronger challenges are on the horizon. He said the Government must be prepared to stay the course.
"We want to recognise that some significant headwinds remain. The programme is still fragile, still dependent on the global economy and the growth of the global economy. We want to encourage the authorities to stay the course to remain focused we are just five tests of fifteen and that is significant," Henry said.
Henry was speaking last Wednesday at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's luncheon at the Half Moon Conference Centre, Montego Bay.
Min Zhu, deputy director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the multilateral agency with which Jamaica inked the Extended Fund Facility, said the world economy was set to grow by three per cent over the new
fiscal year. He said this low growth rate could have a major impact on emerging states like Jamaica.
Henry, however, said that despite the less than glowing financial world market outlook, the government has been able to make some difficult and painful decisions, which have so far redounded to strong economic gains.
"We have seen aspects of debt restructuring, we have seen fiscal consolidation, measures to strengthen the financial sector resilience, we've seen measures to improve the business climate, we have public sector reform, pension reform which are some very important measures and we want to commend the administration for the successes thus far," Henry said.
According to Henry, the Government does not have a choice and cannot waver from the current fiscal course as local stakeholders had committed heavily to the success of the
"We know when it becomes more difficult in terms of the type of the decision to be taken and the political willingness - we want to encourage you - that we are all stakeholders we have a lot vested and invested in this as a sacrifice and we want to see this through to the end."
He charged the government to maintain the dialogue with all stakeholders and commended the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), which he said was a vital instrument, which was established to ensure probity and transparency.
"It is imperative that we maintain the dialogue and the collaboration with the private
sector; we want to recognise the work of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee as it is a tremendous apparatus for helping with that dialogue and transparency," Henry concluded.