Push for reforms – IMF wants speedy policy changes to drive growth as Ja passes second test – Lead Stories

imf wants

Dr Peter Phillips (left), minster of finance, planning & public service, addresses the media at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) press conference held at the Ministry of Finance yesterday afternoon. IMF Mission Chief Dr Jan Kees Martijn looks on. Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor – Business

A mission which conducted the second review under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme with Jamaica has emphasised the need for the Government to accelerate reforms that will facilitate investments and create employment.

The mission, which has been in Jamaica consulting with government officials and the private sector since November 6, confirmed that Jamaica has achieved the quantitative targets for the quarter ending September, Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips revealed at a press briefing at the ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston yesterday.

He said the team, led by IMF mission Chief Jan Kees Martijn, also “expressed satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the fiscal and other structural reforms that are all aimed at creating a growth-friendly economic environment.”

Noting that there was a strong focus throughout the discussions on the facilitation of investments and the creation of employment, Dr Phillips said some key issues emanating from that interaction was the strength of the signal of lasting changes that the reforms of public finances were sending, and the need to place even more effort into the enhancement of the climate for doing business.

The minister said the views fit squarely with the legislative agenda to be undertaken over the next 12 months, which includes majorimprovements to the policy framework that will incentivise and facilitate business.

Among them are the fiscal incentives reforms bill currently before Parliament, which is expected to be debated this month; a bill for the Security Interests in Personal Property, which is already before Parliament and will facilitate the use of personal property as collateral for bank loans; and legal and regulatory reforms, which will facilitate the emergence of collective investment schemes in the securities sector.

“Indications are that the economy has returned to growth and grew just under one per cent for the quarter ending September and we expect it to continue to show positive growth in the second half of the fiscal year,” Dr Phillips said.

He added that “this growth will be boosted by the strenuous pursuit of investment in large, strategic projects, which can set the stage for an even more comprehensive transformation of the Jamaican, economy and the rates and levels of growth.”

The finance minister said, “it is important that Jamaicans recognise and participate in the opportunities that these changes provide so that the benefits may be distributed as widely as possible.”

According to Dr Phillips, “with the strong upfront macro-economic adjustment, the social protection initiatives that are included in the budget are particularly important to maintain social peace and cohesion and to help build the capacity and improve productivity overall.”

He said the Government continues to protect the resources available in the budget to support the needs of the most vulnerable and to facilitate the empowerment of those sectors of the population to become more self-reliant and economically productive.

“We intend to continue to build on the progress that has been made thus far in reforming the country’s finances and we will endeavour to ensure that as many Jamaicans as possible are able to participate in this effort to secure growth, reform our economy and deliver on the legitimate aspirations of the Jamaican people,” the finance minister said.

“Now that the early shoots of economic growth are visible, it is incumbent upon us to nurture them and to advance their growth to the fullest extent possible,” he added.

The report of the IMF mission is subject to approval by the IMF board, which is scheduled to undertake the review in late December.