Mon | Jan 27, 2020

BOJ inflation target not up for debate in Parliament – Clarke

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:19 AM
Dr Nigel Clarke
Dr Nigel Clarke

Finance and the public service minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has disagreed strongly with a suggestion to debate in Parliament inflation target set by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), but instead, said that questions could be allowed on the issue.

Under the Bank of Jamaica (Amendment) Act, it is proposed that the central bank, after setting inflation target, should submit the information to Parliament for tabling and debate.

However, Clarke, who is the chairman of a joint select committee reviewing the Bank of Jamaica (Amendment) Act, said he was not in favour of a suggestion by committee member, Peter Bunting, for the inflation target to be debated, arguing that such a discourse could be coloured by politics.

“Whenever things enter the political realm in which many factors are at play, sometimes political incentives exist to express one’s dissatisfaction on something totally unrelated, and we can’t afford that here,” Clarke insisted.

Bunting is of the view that debate on the inflation target would provide an opportunity “to deepen our democracy and our understanding of economic policy”.

He argued that the target could be debated and passed by affirmative resolution, with a simple majority giving the measure their stamp of approval.

“What risk is there in having a debate? What risk is there in coming to the Parliament and justifying the basis for the decision?” he questioned.

Another committee member, Senator Lambert Brown, said that the finance minister could make a statement to Parliament and table the inflation target, to allow for questions and brief comments. This suggestion got the nod from Clarke.

“I am going to use the chairman’s prerogative and suggest the compromise that, when we say it is tabled we explain tabled to mean the statement by ministers, which automatically opens up that tabling to questions and back-and-forth explanations,” the finance minister said.