JIS News

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  • Co-Chairman of EPOC, Richard Byles, has given the Government high marks for its efforts in fulfilling a significant number of the IMF conditionalities.
  • Mr. Byles expressed confidence that the most important criteria (the Net International Reserves (NIR) and the primary surplus) will be fulfilled to pass the third quarterly IMF test.
  • As at December 2013, the NIR was US$1.053 billion, which exceeded the target of US$836.5 million.

Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, has given the Government high marks for its efforts in fulfilling a significant number of the conditionalities outlined under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“I think there is a quiet transformation that is occurring. I think that Government is, in many ways, putting its house in order, if we can measure that by how it is following meticulously, all of the conditionalities of the IMF agreement,” he said, while addressing a press briefing at the Sagicor Life Jamaica Head Office, in Kingston, on January 10.

Mr. Byles expressed confidence that the most important criteria (the Net International Reserves (NIR) and the primary surplus) will be fulfilled to pass the third quarterly IMF test.

“So, it is hitting its targets, both quantitative – primary balance and NIR – as well as all of those structural benchmarks, and some of them are really important. The fiscal prudence is refreshing, different, and lays the foundation for more prudent management of our financial matters going forward,” he said.

He informed that as at December 2013, the NIR was US$1.053 billion, which exceeded the target of US$836.5 million. The primary surplus, which also hit its target last year, stood at $42.5 billion, which was three per cent above the target.

With respect to the structural benchmarks, which are primarily legislative action that occurred in Parliament in December, they also met the target of the IMF, the Co-Chairman further informed.

“On that basis, the outlook of the EPOC is that of continued cautious optimism that we will meet all of the IMF targets,” Mr. Byles said.

In the meantime, the Co-Chairman stressed the need for stronger growth in the economy.

“I believe that we’ll see that growth numbers are fairly positive (up to the end of December). All the indications say that, but it’s not strong enough,” he opined.

Mr. Byles further argued that the only way “we can really get that growth, is by the private sector investing.”

“From my point of view, as a member of the private sector, I see the Government doing what we said they must do. I think it is up to us now in the private sector to do what we think is good business, which is to invest and to look out for opportunities,” he emphasized.

The Government negotiated a US$932.3 million four-year Extended Fund Facility with the IMF and the country is expected to meet certain stipulations in order to continue benefiting under the programme.

Jamaica registered positive performances for the first two quarters of fiscal year 2013/14. The third quarter review is pending.

The EPOC was established by the Government to monitor the progress of the reform implementation process.