'I am very comfortable with where we are'
PIOJ head remains confident of IMF deal by year-endFriday, December 14, 2012
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter email@example.com
DIRECTOR-GENERAL of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Dr Gladstone Hutchinson has expressed confidence of a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by year-end.
"I am very comfortable with where we are at and I would be extremely surprised if it is not concluded. We will, I think by the end of the year, have concluded all of the framework with the team and it would be ready for presentation to the IMF Board," Dr Hutchinson told reporters following his final presentation to the Economy and Production Committee of Parliament at Gordon House in downtown Kingston yesterday.
"As far as I am concerned, it is downhill now," he said in referring to the certainty of the deal.
In the meantime, Dr Hutchinson — who will demit office on January 25 — was at odds with the stance of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) regarding the pending deal.
Last month, PSOJ President Christopher Zacca, while expressing confidence that the country will get another agreement with the IMF, complained that the group was in the dark about details of aspects of the negotiations and thus had concerns.
Wednesday, Dr Hutchinson was brusque in responding to those concerns.
"The minister (Dr Peter Phillips) may not care for my response but the PSOJ is not the Government. People elected a government to negotiate these things and the Government has been very diligent. My colleagues have been working very hard; I am very proud of my colleagues and the work we have been doing in negotiating this.
"Frankly, I think the Government has addressed and kept abreast everyone who needs to be kept abreast sufficiently," he said.
In late October, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips declared that "there are no areas of fundamental disagreement" between the IMF and his Government as to the outline of the programme to be concluded with the fund. He said discussions were now underway as to the contents of a draft Letter of Intent.
Furthermore, Dr Phillips said at the time that "there is no delay in the process of negotiations with the IMF, and we are proceeding in accordance with the timetable originally set out". Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is on record as saying a signing is anticipated by this December.
In the meantime Dr Hutchinson, who was appointed director-general and Executive Chairman of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) on July 5, 2010 under the then Jamaica Labour Party Government and continued to serve under the present Administration when it won the elections in December 2011, said he was sufficiently satisfied that he had done the job laid out for him.
"I was asked by then Prime Minister [Bruce] Golding to serve and I came immediately. With the change in government, I was asked to continue on to see these projects through, and to ensure that the growth strategy was a central part of the IMF negotiations and to participate in those negotiations. Those things are also now at an end; we have published the growth strategy and the negotiations are at their end, and the growth elements are front and centre in it," he noted.
"It was very, very satisfactory. It has been a tremendous experience for me... I have not had a single moment where I have regretted the opportunity to serve with my colleagues and with either government. I served previously during the 1990s for the government now in power and I was brought back by the Opposition (when it formed the government). I like to take pride in the fact that I served the highest level of technocracy, not politics... I am a pure technocrat," he said of his tenure.
Prior to his appointment, Dr Hutchinson held the post of tenured associate professor of economics and business at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania — one of the United States' institutions for first degree studies.
Wednesday, he reiterated that he said he will return to his "substantive post as a professor" at that institution on January 28 next year.
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