‘The only way to get things done’

Pri­vate sec­tor, Op­po­si­tion sup­port Growth Coun­cil pro­pos­als’ in­clu­sion in new IMF deal

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jo­van John­son Staff Re­porter jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

THE PRI­VATE Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica (PSOJ) and the op­po­si­tion Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party have re­acted pos­i­tively to news from the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil (EGC) that some of its pro­pos­als to achieve eco­nomic growth could form part of a new agree­ment with the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF) when the cur­rent one ex­pires next year.

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness es­tab­lished the EGC with a goal to achieve gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) growth of five per cent in four years.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day on Power 106 FM’s ‘Real Business with Ral­ston Hy­man’, EGC Chair­man Michael Lee-Chin said: “Don’t be sur­prised if you see some of the ini­tia­tives find their way in[to] the IMF agree­ment. That’s how se­ri­ous these ini­tia­tives are to the coun­try.”

Dr Peter Phillips, op­po­si­tion spokesman on fi­nance, said it was ex­pected that any fu­ture growth-in­duc­ing mea­sure would be part of a post-IMF agree­ment re­la­tion­ship.

“The good thing about the EGC is that it is sum­maris­ing a lot of the work that had been done and giv­ing it greater vis­i­bil­ity. These things are el­e­ments that had al­ready been iden­ti­fied and were be­ing worked on, in­clud­ing the is­sue of the cen­tral­ity of crime,” Phillips told The Gleaner.

He con­tin­ued: “All the mea­sures that had re­sulted in our im­prove­ments in our com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ing and the easeof-do­ing-business sta­tus were all el­e­ments in the pre­vi­ous pro­gramme and that have re­sulted in the im­prove­ments which have been regis­tered over the past three years.”

GREAT MOVE

Den­nis Chung, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the PSOJ, said the group wel­comes Lee-Chin’s an­nounce­ment.

“When we looked at it at the PSOJ, we were very much in sup­port of some of those mea­sures be­ing ac­tu­ally in a new IMF agree­ment be­cause that’s re­ally the only way things get done in the coun­try,” he shared.

Ja­maica’s tough four-year agree­ment with the IMF ends in March next year, but in Au­gust, Lee-Chin de­clared that gains made un­der that deal could be re­versed with­out con­tin­ued ex­ter­nal over­sight from the IMF.

“I’m not too sure that if the IMF left, we would not back­slide. [The IMF] im­posed a dis­ci­pline on us, which we needed. I would rather see that the IMF continues be­cause it en­sures that we stick to the dis­ci­pline,” he said.

On Septem­ber 12, the EGC sub­mit­ted its pro­posal to the Cab­i­net, which it said fo­cused on eight key ar­eas: main­tain­ing macro-eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and pur­su­ing debt-re­duc­tion strate­gies; im­prov­ing cit­i­zen se­cu­rity; im­prov­ing ac­cess to fi­nance; and pur­su­ing bu­reau­cratic re­form to im­prove the business en­vi­ron­ment. The oth­ers are stim­u­lat­ing greater as­set util­i­sa­tion; build­ing hu­man cap­i­tal; har­ness­ing the power of the di­as­pora; and catalysing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of strate­gic projects.

On crime, Lee-Chin said the coun­cil is to be­gin meet­ing this week with the var­i­ous agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for im­ple­ment­ing ini­tia­tives it has sug­gested to stem Ja­maica’s crime prob­lem.

There’s been no up­date on whether the Cab­i­net ap­proved all the pro­pos­als, but Lee-Chin said the EGC would be launch­ing them at the Na­tional Arena in Kingston next week, when a me­moran­dum of in­tent will also be signed.

Ja­maica and the IMF were due to hold a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day, where an up­date was ex­pected to be given on talks be­tween the two on the post-agree­ment frame­work. That was post­poned be­cause of the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Michael Lee-Chin

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