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Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says the task to successfully complete the obligations under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme is a national undertaking, which will require “all hands on deck”.

“If we are to create this new environment, it is not a task that can be accomplished simply by Government operating on its own. It is a challenge that must be embraced by all the other stakeholders in the national community,” he stated.

The Minister was addressing public and private sector stakeholders at the opening of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) on Thursday, May 2, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

He noted that advancing the economic reforms and meeting the obligations under the IMF will require significant public/private sector partnership.

“Our response to the implementation challenges has been to incorporate other stakeholders to work alongside the Government, as partners in overseeing the implementation of the programme,” he stated.

The Minister pointed to the establishment of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee as part of this public/private sector collaboration.

He said the committee, which is co-chaired byPresident and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sagicor Life, Richard Byles,is expected to monitor the compliance and progress of the ministries, departments and agencies with regard to the implementation of the IMF agreement.

The other members are: Co-chair, Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) Governor, Brian Wynter; Financial Secretary, Devon Rowe; Head of the Coordinating and Implementation Unit in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Carol Nelson, who is serving in an interim capacity; Director of Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), Keith Duncan; President and Chief Executive Officer of Scotia Group Jamaica, Bruce Bowen; Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank (NCB), Patrick Hylton; President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Chris Zacca; Vice President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Union (JCTU), Helene Davis-Whyte; Economist, Ralston Hyman; and President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant.

Dr. Phillips said it is significant that the CGF, which is being held a day after the approval of the IMF deal, involves multiple stakeholders, pointing out that this level of collaboration is necessary for the country to move forward.

The CGF, which is a joint initiative of the Compete Caribbean Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), aims to facilitate public/private sector dialogue on issues central to national and regional growth and development around three thematic areas: Investment Climate; Logistics and Connectivity; and Skills and Productivity.

The initiative is also supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the CARICOM Secretariat, and UWI.

Other speakers at the forum included: Vice Chancellor, UWI, Professor Nigel Harris; Vice-President, Operations, CDB, Dr. Carla Barnett; Director for the Caribbean, World Bank, Francoise Clottes; Country Representative, IDB and Compete Caribbean, Therese Turner-Jones; President, PSOJ, Chris Zacca; and General Manager, Caribbean Country Department, IDB, Gerard Johnson.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter