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Phillips confident as Jamaica gets ready for IMF test

Saturday, July 27, 2013    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Finance and Planning Minister Peter Phillips says the Government is confident that Jamaica will pass the first quarterly performance review, to be conducted by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Team in August.

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) reported Phillips as saying the team is expected on August 14, and the review would be done under the new US$932.3-million, four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with the IMF.

"We feel very satisfied about the June 30 performance review, and we expect that when the Fund Mission visits, that their review will confirm our review that June 30 targets were all on track," Phillips told a Manchester Chamber of Commerce forum at the Mandeville Hotel on Thursday.

"We expect, also, that there will be a similar performance for the future targets," Phillips added.

In underlining the Government's confidence, Phillips said, "We have established our own Co-ordination and Implementation Unit in the Ministry of Finance to track our performance."

The finance minister said progress had been made in implementing key components of the country's Economic Reform Programme (ERP), a prerequisite for concluding the EFF, as well as "important and positive signs", from these efforts.

Several components of the programme have either been implemented or are currently being embarked on, in an effort to reduce Jamaica's debt from the current 145 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), to 96 per cent by 2020.

These include: attainment of a 7.5 per cent primary budgetary surplus target; implementation of a National Debt Exchange (NDX) programme; tax reform; and public sector reform, restructuring of salaries to reduce ratio to GDP from 10.6 per cent, as at March 31, 2013, to nine per cent by 2015/16.

Consequent on these and other key measures, Phillips said business investor confidence has improved. He noted that a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce survey indicates that "business confidence has been up... for the first time in two years and that businesses thought that this was a good time to invest".

While pointing out that there are "some important legislative changes still to come", aimed at advancing tax reform and improving "our tax collection arrangements", the finance minister was, nonetheless, satisfied that the administration had performed creditably in fulfilling its obligations under the EFF, which was approved by the IMF's Executive Board in May.

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