PM says economy has progressed under ERP

Saturday, September 22, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the economy has made progress under the Economic Reform Programme (ERP).

Speaking at a Government of Jamaica and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Review press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Holness said the Government is pleased that its economic programme is proceeding on track.

“Reform efforts are bearing fruit and there is projected growth by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ),” the prime minister noted.

“We have reserves, which are ahead of programme targets; employment continues to be strong; inflation continues to be low; interest rates are at record lows, and, generally, there is a sense of confidence in the economy,” he added.

Also participating were Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke; and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief to Jamaica Dr Uma Ramakrishnan, who spoke about the Fourth Review of the Standby Arrangement, which took place between September 10 and 21.

Based on the review, Dr Clarke announced that Jamaica has met all the quantitative performance requirements under the ERP.

“The shared assessment of the IMF and of the Government of Jamaica is that Jamaica's Policy Implementation under the Economic Reform Programme remains strong. Jamaica has met all quantitative performance criteria under the programme through to the end of June 2018, and the Government has also met all 21 structural benchmarks in the programme to date, of which seven have been on the macro-fiscal side and 14 have been connected with public-sector reform,” Dr Clarke said.

The minister noted that there are only two structural benchmarks remaining under the Standby Arrangement, as at the commencement of the fourth review.

“The first of these is the tabling of the Bank of Jamaica Act in Parliament by October 2018, which the Government is on track to meet; and the second is ensuring that the cap on the stock of domestic arrears remains at $6.4 billion, which is measured on a monthly basis, [and] which the Government continues to meet,” he added.

The minister emphasised that budget execution remains strong, the Government's primary surplus exceeded the budget as at the end of June 2018 by an appreciable degree, and tax revenues were buoyant.

“Capital expenditure has been overperforming, and was, as at the end of June, 13 per cent ahead of budget with the significant ongoing infrastructure spending,” Dr Clarke said.

Dr Ramakrishnan, meanwhile, said that consideration by the IMF's Executive Board is tentatively scheduled for November 2018.

“Upon approval, an additional US$226 million will be made available to Jamaica, bringing the total accessible credit to US$1.2 billion,” she said.

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