By Garfield Angus
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Minister of finance and planning, Dr Peter Phillips says Jamaica’s economy has seen a number of recent gains such as the finalization of US$3 billion in investments; increased employment; below target inflation; and a narrowing of current account balance of payments.
He outlined the achievements while addressing a luncheon with managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, and business leaders on Friday.
Dr Peter Phillips
Phillips provided an update on the government’s economic reform programme noting that, the sacrifices that have been made, “require that we complete the programme…it makes no sense to give up before the gain can be realised”.
“During my recent meetings with investors in the United States, and across Europe, there was consistent positive feedback and recognition of Jamaica’s progress,” the minister said, noting that the investments committed, some of which have been completed “relate to new projects, and will be undertaken primarily by foreign investors over the next 12 to18 months.”
Meanwhile, the IMF managing director praised the work of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), which was established by the government. She noted that in EPOC’s reviews “nothing was missed, criteria were met, conditions were satisfied, there was no delay, and that is changing the course of history”.
She stated that the Fund has never “seen something like EPOC”.
Lagarde further stressed, “You have made an exceptional contribution to the programme, by taking ownership, by applying private sector methods to the follow-up, to the accountability process; by collaborating with the public sector. This is really impressive.”
Lagarde told the audience that, while all the economic indicators are headed in the right direction, Jamaica must stick with the process of reform so that citizens reap the successes that the country has the potential to achieve.
The head of the Fund also urged the country’s leaders not “to lose the benefits of the hard decisions that have been made.”
“You are off to a very strong start, something that we have rarely seen, EPOC is contributing massively to that, please stay the course. Don’t let electoral process get into the way of the efforts that you are undertaking,” she urged.