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Story Highlights

  • The National Partnership Council met on Thursday, September 26 for the first time since the formal signing.
  • The Minister of Finance and Planning updated the meeting on the country's performance in meeting fiscal and social protection targets.
  • The next meeting of the Public Sector Monitoring Committee will deal with the non-monetary issues under the Heads of Agreement.

The National Partnership Council met on Thursday, September 26 for the first time since the formal signing of the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement on July 31. Representatives from all signatory groups, Government, Trade Unions, Private Sector, Civil Society were present.

The Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr the Hon. Peter Phillips updated the meeting on the country’s performance in meeting the near term fiscal and social protection targets. He drew attention to the recent credit upgrade by Standard and Poors, and to the increase in small enterprises in sections of the economy. He pointed out that the Government had so far implemented the agreed measures for social protection, and that the country was on track to meet all the quantitative targets set for the present period. The establishment of fiscal rules to ensure that borrowing did not exceed prescribed limits was in train. Minister Phillips also revealed that appointment of a person to lead the Public Sector transformation process was imminent.

In response to concerns raised by members, Hon. Horace Dalley, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who chaired the meeting, indicated that at the next meeting of the Public Sector Monitoring Committee he would be dealing with the non-monetary issues under the Heads of Agreement with the public sector workers.

In a message from the Chairman of the Council Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Council members were thanked for their commitment to the consultative approach adopted by the Council.

She indicated that “while we are committed as a Partnership to improve our efficiency in doing business, it is important to consult early to avoid missteps.” In accordance with a proposal from her, and with the support of the sector groups, Professor Gordon Shirley, President Designate of the Port Authority of Jamaica provided an update on the investment proposal being pursued with a focus on the Portland Bight Protected Area.

He explained that the Jamaican Government was in a relatively early stage of negotiations with the Chinese company which had expressed interest in a major manufacturing and trans-shipment facility in the area. Local consultations and technical evaluations were being done to determine the eventual site and parameters of the investment project. He said that the potential investor had given the assurance that in relation to any agreed site, all the environmental requirements would be met.

In response to a range of questions and concerns raised, Professor Shirley thanked the members for the perspectives and the information they had shared. He committed to keeping them informed. He agreed that development had to be balanced and that he would use his office and his energies to ensure that the outcome would be of optimal benefit to Jamaica.

Hon. Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce who is scheduled to update the Council on the Logistics Hub project and Business Competitiveness at the October meeting revealed that Jamaica has moved up three places in the World Bank competitiveness rankings within the year.

Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining informed the meeting that next week he will share with the Energy Council the report from the Office of Utilities and Regulations (OUR) on the recently concluded bidding process for the supply of 360 megawatts of electricity. The Partnership Council will be represented at that meeting.

Partnership Council members expressed support for continued constructive dialogue within the Council and for seeking to encourage a more respectful tone in national discourse. They also welcomed the sharing of information in a timely manner and emphasized the importance of strengthening trust between the members.

The Council gave formal approval for the appointment of a Coordinating Committee which manages its day-to-day work, as well as a Committee of Eminent Persons which will seek to ensure that the principles of the Partnership are adhered to by all Partners.