OPPOSITION Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw has said that yesterday's statements by finance minister Dr Peter Phillips, proved he is backing off a December deadline for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"The minister in the House of Representatives this afternoon in fact backed away, for the first time, from a December deadline," Shaw told the Jamaica Observer last night. "He never even mentioned the month of December: In fact, he mentioned no month at all.
"When I challenged him on the consequences of making contradictory statements, in which the prime minister says one thing and he says another and that this is destructive to confidence building in the economy, he totally backed away from that position," Shaw insisted.
"Now, what the country faces is that we don't know when an IMF agreement will come and I feel pretty certain that, on the basis of the trajectory that is there, where the tax reform white paper and the pension reform white paper will not come until November, I am now pretty certain that no December IMF agreement is on the cards, and the minister knows that and that is why he has backed away from his December target," Shaw said.
Turning to Dr Phillips's claim that there were no areas of disagreement with the IMF, Shaw pointed out that when he was minister of finance in 2011, he had no disagreement with the IMF targets, either. But, there were delays in implementing them, because he wanted more consultations with local sector groups and, on that basis, the IMF refused to do their quarterly reviews.
"I can say now that, while there may be no fundamental disagreement with the IMF, unless the Government implements the tax and pension reforms and have the wage issue with the public sector unions settled, which are priority requirements for an IMF agreement, they will not get one cent until they have implemented them," he stated.