JAMAICA STILL IN THE DARK ON IMF

Audley-Shaw

Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Planning, Growth and Economic Development Mr. Audley Shaw, today described the Post Cabinet Press Conference held yesterday as failing to provide a firm timeline for a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In making the observation, Mr. Shaw said that the Minister of Finance repeated what was already known about the need for wage restraint in the public sector but gave no indication that this has been agreed with the trade unions and workers.

Mr. Shaw also said that the minister made reference to new taxes, the elimination of tax waivers and a liability management program without indicating the time-frame for the appropriate consultations with critical stake holders in the implementation of these initiatives.

“So after a three-day Cabinet Retreat, we have not been told the specifics of Prior Action Requirements and the time table for implementation in order to secure a new agreement with the IMF”, Mr. Shaw said.
According to Mr. Shaw, “This apparent state of confusion will continue to fuel uncertainty, leading to more slippage in the exchange rate, rising prices and further decline in the economy as a result of the wait-and-see attitude being taken by investors”.

Mr. Shaw listed the following information which needs to be furnished by the Minister of Finance to avoid further confusion and restore confidence in the economy:

1.    List each Prior Action Requirement of the IMF, in relation to public sector wages, taxation, elimination of tax waivers, a liability management program and any other that exists.

2.    List the proposed date of implementation of each prior action.

3.    List the details of projected recasting of revenue and expenditure projections to achieve a primary surplus of 7.5% for this fiscal year as indicated by the Minister of Finance.

4.    Against this background, indicate a firm time frame for the agreement with the IMF.

Mr. Shaw said that these questions must be answered in a fulsome way to ensure absolute transparency and openness in the conduct of this critical issue.

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