Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Clarke projects BOJ independence by 2020

Published:Friday | August 23, 2019 | 12:36 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
From left: Richard Byles, governor of the Bank of Jamaica, looks on as Finance Minister Nigel Clarke points something out to Keith Duncan, chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, and Howard Mitchell, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, at yesterday’s signing ceremony bto extend domestic monitoring of the country’s economic reform programme.
From left: Richard Byles, governor of the Bank of Jamaica, looks on as Finance Minister Nigel Clarke points something out to Keith Duncan, chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, and Howard Mitchell, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, at yesterday’s signing ceremony bto extend domestic monitoring of the country’s economic reform programme.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke yesterday said that he is expecting that by the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Parliament will pass the legislation that will make the Bank of Jamaica an independent body capable of setting monetary policy.

He also signalled his intention to table a bill for the establishment of the fiscal policy by the end of the same period.

Clarke made the revelation while responding to questions at the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) to extend domestic monitoring of Jamaica’s economic reform programme after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrangement ends in November.

Jamaica, in 2016, signed an agreement with the IMF, valued at US$1.64 billion, intended as insurance to support the country’s ongoing reform programme to tackle poverty, create jobs, and improve living standards.

The continued operation of EPOC, Clarke said, is important in maintaining Jamaica’s economy trajectory until the fiscal council is established.

“The Government is far advanced in enacting legislation that will modernise the Central Bank, inclusive of institutionalising independence in the implementation of monetary policy. We are also working towards legislation that will give rise to a fiscal council that will strengthen Jamaica’s fiscal responsibility framework and be an independent arbiter of fiscal rules. Today, we are empowering EPOC in its monitoring role until those policy commitments are operationalised,” Clarke said.

As Jamaica exits the agreement it has had with the IMF, the finance minister said that the Government is committed to keeping the country on a path to sustained economic growth.

“These decisions are a demonstration of our commitment to maintain a credible and sustainable macro-economic path, including a fiscal trajectory that is consistent with our fiscal responsibility law long into the future that provides the foundation of economic opportunity for the current and future generations.”

The EPOC was established in 2013 to monitor the implementation of Jamaica’s economic reform measures under its agreement with the IMF.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com