The government has extended the life of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), which was supposed to have come to an end after Jamaica’s three-year Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2019.
Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke along with EPOC’s Chairman Keith Duncan yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to this effect at the ministry, which would see EPOC continuing to work beyond this year. Other signatories to the agreement included President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Howard Mitchell.
The agreement extends EPOC’s domestic monitoring of Jamaica’s economic reform programme beyond the end of the IMF programme until the Fiscal Council is established and the institutional framework for making the Bank of Jamaica truly independent is put in place. Cabinet has already approved the establishment of an independent Fiscal Council as part of measures to strengthen Jamaica’s fiscal responsibility framework.
This move is consistent with plans by the Government to secure Jamaica’s gains under successive economic reform programmes with the IMF and build on the success of domestic partnership initiatives. The much-talked-about Fiscal Council is a permanent, independent, non-partisan institution created by legislation, staffed by competent, experienced and technically proficient persons who help to promote economically sustainable fiscal policies across political cycles.
The MOU extension with EPOC also follows the government’s agreement with the IMF to keep its office in Jamaica open for two years following the end of the Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement in November this year.