Jamaica News: Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) Co-Chairman, Keith Duncan, anticipates that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Executive Board will ratify Jamaica’s fourth review under the IMF’s Precautionary Standby Arrangement (PSBA), when its members meet for deliberations on November 5.
Mr. Duncan said this optimism is based on the economic programme’s out-turns through to the end of June 2018, which saw the Government meeting all quantitative performance criteria and indicative targets, except inflation.
The IMF’s Mission Team to Jamaica conducted the review between September 10 and 21.
He was speaking at EPOC’s quarterly media briefing at Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited’s (JMMB) corporate offices in Kingston on Wednesday (October 17).
Notable among the out-turns, Mr. Duncan said, is the $31.3 billion primary surplus recorded at the end of June, which far exceeded the $18-million target; tax revenue inflows of $128.7 billion, surpassing the $110-billion target; and non-borrowed reserves totalling $2.48 billon, which outweighed the $2.07-billion target.
“We do expect a favourable review, in spite of the inflation target coming in at 2.8 per cent… below the programme range [of] 3.5 to 6.5 per cent,” the EPOC Co-Chairman told journalists.
He reiterated that consequent on the strong economic performance, the Government met all seven macroeconomic fiscal structural benchmarks for the November 2017 to August 2018 period.
Additionally, the Administration met the 14 structural benchmarks for public-sector transformation, and public bodies and public-service reform through to the end of August 2018.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duncan said all quantitative performance criteria and indicative targets are basically back on track, based on the August out-turns vis-à-vis the September targets.
Notably, he informed, inflation came in at 3.9 per cent to move back into the programme range.
Mr. Duncan further stated that the August primary surplus out-turn stood at $42.1 billion, some $1.9 billion shy of the $44-billion September target.
Tax revenue inflows stood at $207.9 billion, as against the $234-billion target for September, while total non-borrowed reserves climbed to US$2.47 billion, surpassing the US$2.14-billion September target.
The EPOC Co-Chairman indicated that the April to August 2018 period recorded $230 billion in overall grants inflows, 2.8 per cent above the Government’s targeted budget of $223.8 billion.
Additionally, he said tax revenues continue to outperform budget, coming in at $207.9 billion or 3.6 per cent above the target of $200.6 billion.
Mr. Duncan attributed this out-turn to ongoing improvements in taxpayer compliance, pointing out that approximately 6,080 new persons were brought into the tax net as at July 2018.
“EPOC acknowledges the targeted efforts of the Government of Jamaica [and] Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) in widening the tax base, which has contributed to the positive performance of tax revenues,” he stated.
Mr. Duncan noted further that total expenditure for the period was below budget by $5.9 billion, while capital expenditure was $24.4 billion, some $2.8 billion or 13.2 per cent above budget.
He indicated that tax revenue inflows and expenditure contributed to the $42.1 billion primary surplus recorded for the period, which he said, exceeded the Government’s $34.3 billion target.
“It is important to note the capital expenditure of $24.4 billion, which was $10.7 billion greater than the $13.7 billion expended for the same period, up to August of 2017. The improved investment in capital expenditure demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the overall stimulation of growth in the economy,” the EPOC Co-Chair added.
Mr, Duncan said that with a little over a year to the completion of the PSBA in 2019, “I would say the [economic] programme is on track… and positively so”.
He said the success of the programme, to date, is highlighted by, among other things, growth of at least 2.2 per cent in the April to June quarter; greater tax revenue inflows; unemployment down to 9.7 per cent, the lowest ever; and 1,217,300 persons being employed, the highest number ever recorded.
Source: JIS News