THE Public Sector Monitoring Committee (PSMC) will meet today to continue discussions on a number of labour and production issues relating to the public sector.
The current focus of the committee has been on projects essential to a possible agreement between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by year-end, including tax and public sector pension reform, and the transformation of the civil service to create efficiency and improve working conditions.
Today's meeting is, however, extremely crucial to Finance Minister Peter Phillip's hopes of securing a new IMF deal by the end of December.
Phillips said last week that he expects to conclude negotiations with the Fund by September 25, when an IMF team comes to Kingston, in order to facilitate a decision by the board before the end of December. However, concerns have been raised by the Opposition about the chances of the Government making that deadline, on the basis of the long delay in implementing any of the reform programmes.
Former financial secretary and member of the Government's Council of Economic Advisors, Collin Bullock, in an interview released by the Jamaica Information Service yesterday, ascribed the delay in reaching an agreement to the IMF's desire "to see us on a path, actually putting things in place, starting to implement policies, starting to collect revenue, starting to manage the expenditure in a way which is irrevocable and irreversible".
Bullock said that the challenge for Jamaica, over the next few months, is to demonstrate its commitment to meeting the requirements of the IMF, by focusing on tax and pension reform policies and central treasury management.
"All of these things we have to start putting in place as a sign of our commitment to fundamental change," he said.
The committee, which comprises representatives of the trade unions/associations representing workers in the sector, and the Government, was formed in October 2010 following the expiration of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the previous Government and public sector workers.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning Horace Dalley, a former Minister of Labour and Social Security, chairs the PSMC. He also chairs the parliamentary committee which has been reviewing the public sector pension system.