EPOC to Monitor Implementation of Key IMF Benchmarks

Photo: JIS Photographer Co-Chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Keith Duncan, addressing a briefing at the Sagicor Life Builiding in New Kingston on Tuesday, December 13. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) will be monitoring the Government’s implementation of two key benchmarks under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Precautionary Stand By Arrangement (PSBA) for the January to March quarter.
  • Co-Chair, Keith Duncan, said these are the drafting of a Consultation Paper for a Crisis Resolution Framework, and the establishment of a Financial Inclusion Council.
  • As it relates to the Financial Inclusion Council, Mr. Duncan said the body will be pivotal in implementing the Government’s Financial Inclusion Strategy by 2020, in keeping with provisions under the IMF Staff Level Agreement.

The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) will be monitoring the Government’s implementation of two key benchmarks under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Precautionary Stand By Arrangement (PSBA) for the January to March quarter.

Co-Chair, Keith Duncan, said these are the drafting of a Consultation Paper for a Crisis Resolution Framework, and the establishment of a Financial Inclusion Council.

He was speaking during EPOC’s quarterly media briefing at Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited’s (JMMB) head office in New Kingston on Thursday,
February 9.

Mr. Duncan explained that the resolution framework aims to provide structured and programmed interventions that safeguard the interests of investors and depositors.

“So, in the event of a crisis, and a fallout…may occur in the financial services sector, the framework would stipulate how financial institutions (would) be managed in a structured and programmed manner to ensure that at the end of a crisis, the depositor or investor is not at risk,” he said.

As it relates to the Financial Inclusion Council, Mr. Duncan said the body will be pivotal in implementing the Government’s Financial Inclusion Strategy by 2020, in keeping with provisions under the IMF Staff Level Agreement.

He said the Council’s objectives will include, inter alia, accommodating persons not having formal accounts with a bank or any other financial intermediary.

This, he added, in order to ensure they can access products and services such as credit, insurance and savings instruments

“So this (is targeted at) the under-banked. We are all aware that 43 per cent of Jamaica is under-banked or don’t have an account with a commercial bank. If we bring the under-banked into the formal sector, we expect to see that contributing to and impacting growth in a significant way, because small and medium enterprises (would) now be able to access finance, which is actually positive for the economy,” the Co-Chair said.

He said the Council’s formation will ensure that “there will be governance around the execution of the financial inclusion strategy.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Duncan is optimistic that work will continue to consolidate the quantitative and structural benchmark targets Jamaica has achieved up to the end of December 2016.

These include the Government’s attainment of a primary balance of $76.6 billion for first nine months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, some $22.6 billion ahead of target; grant and revenue out-turns of $351.9 billion, which is 5.2 per cent above the budgeted $334.5 billion; a tax revenue intake of $322 billion, which is $22 billion ahead of target; and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and inflation rates of 1.5 and 1.7 per cent, respectively.

“We are quite confident and hopeful that we will continue to build on this solid platform going into the second review period, ending June 2017,” Mr. Duncan said.

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