Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the Government’s economic reform and transformation programme is proceeding “at an appropriate speed."
He said that the programme, aimed at “restarting the engines of progress,” addresses a number of critical areas including debt management, containing wage-related expenditures, and growth promotion.
The Minister was speaking at Mayberry Investments Limited’s monthly investor forum held yesterday (Nov. 21), at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston.
Dr. Phillips, who spoke on the topic: ‘The Jamaican economy – Where are we and where are we going?’ stated that the economic reform efforts are not limited to negotiating an International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, even though it is a part of the programme.
“The challenge that we face is a challenge not for the IMF, but a challenge for us, the people of Jamaica, to demonstrate that we have the capacity to manage our own economic and financial affairs responsibly and effectively in keeping with the sovereign rights, which we have held for 50 years,” he said.
He stated that having an IMF agreement in place is important, as it represents “a seal of approval” to the international community, and provides a route of access to official financial flows, which have been suspended from 2011.
“It is the seal that will secure access on acceptable terms to international capital markets and for that reason it is important, but it is not the be all and end all,” Dr. Phillips pointed out.
He reiterated that the negotiations are expected to be finalized this calendar year. The Government is expecting to conclude a letter of intent by the end of December and “maybe we could get to the board by January,” he informed.
“This past week we had officials of the government of Jamaica in Washington, looking at and exchanging data regarding our views on the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, which forms the basis of a letter of intent, which is to be issued,” he said.