JIS News

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  • Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-Chair, Richard Byles, has welcomed the Government’s stated focus on achieving more substantial growth for Jamaica.
  • He was speaking at EPOC’s monthly media briefing at Sagicor’s New Kingston offices on Tuesday, March 15.
  • Its role also includes assisting in ensuring that the agreed targets are achieved, as well as advising the public, through the media, of any concerns or developments.

Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-Chair, Richard Byles, has welcomed the Government’s stated focus on achieving more substantial growth for Jamaica.

“We certainly hope that it bears the fruit that I think every Jamaican wants to see, because we certainly need it to spur us past the one percent margin…and into the two (and) three percent (range), which is where you then start to see and feel job creation,” Mr. Byles says.

He was speaking at EPOC’s monthly media briefing at Sagicor’s New Kingston offices on Tuesday, March 15.

Mr. Byles noted that manufacturing, agriculture and tourism are key areas for growth.

While agriculture declined by 3.3 percent during the December quarter, Mr. Byles said that if Jamaica is spared the onset of drought and hurricane, the sector “should start to grow again, positively.”

As it relates to tourism, the EPOC Co-Chair noted that the foundation has been laid for the sector to continue to do well. This, he said, as “there are a lot of rooms coming on stream this year,” adding that rooms and airlift capacity are key for the sector’s growth.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported growth of 0.6 percent for the October to December 2015 quarter.

Among the main growth drivers were electricity and water, which recorded a five percent increase; manufacturing, 3.7 percent; and construction, 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, Mr. Byles said he is not aware of any changes being contemplated to the structure and function of EPOC.

Mr. Byles said that Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, has indicated that he “welcomed EPOC” and expressed the hope that it would “continue to perform in the way that it has.”

EPOC comprises of 11 representatives from the private and public sectors, civil society, and trade unions, who review Government reports on the progress of implementing the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) over the life of the IMF’s four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which supports the country’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP).

Its role also includes assisting in ensuring that the agreed targets are achieved, as well as advising the public, through the media, of any concerns or developments.

Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) Governor, Brian Wynter, also serves as Co-Chair.