Mon | Aug 10, 2020

Finance Ministry signs monitoring agreement with EPOC

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 11:49 AM
(From left) Richard Byles, Governor, Bank of Jamaica, Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke, with, Keith Duncan, EPOC Chairman and Howard Mitchell, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica at the signing ceremony between the Ministry and EPOC to extend the domestic monitoring of Jamaica’s Economic Reform Programme. The ceremony was held at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices on Thursday, August 22, 2019 - Ricardo Makyn photo.

Nickoy Wilson, Gleaner Writer

The Ministry of Finance this morning signed an agreement with the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) to extend its domestic monitoring of Jamaica's Economic Reform Programme after the country's International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrangement ends.

In 2016, Jamaica signed an agreement with the IMF valued at US$1.64 billion intended as insurance to support the country's ongoing reform programme to tackle poverty, create jobs, and improve living standards.

The arrangement ends in November.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke said that the continued existence of EPOC was important in maintaining the trajectory of Jamaica's economy following the end of the agreement and until the Fiscal Council was established.

"The Government is far advanced in enacting legislation that will modernise the Central Bank, inclusive of institutionalising independence in the implementation of monetary policy. We are also working towards legislation that will give rise to a Fiscal Council that will strengthen Jamaica's fiscal responsibility framework and be an independent arbiter of fiscal rules. Today, we are empowering EPOC in its monitoring role until those policy commitments are operationalised," he said.

Clarke was speaking at the signing ceremony at his ministry's offices in Kingston.

Also present was EPOC Chairman Keith Duncan, who said that the existence of the oversight body was necessary until more robust measures were put in place.

"We believe it is important that this mechanism continues to be in place until we are comfortable that the institutional arrangements that are in place are adequate and suitable and have sufficient capacity to deliver. And we are confident that this will happen based on the work, based on the engagement that is occurring with the industry with EPOC and with the members of the public," he said.

Last month, it was announced that the IMF would continue to operate its offices in Jamaica for an additional two years following the end of the arrangement.

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