FOLLOWING their monthly meeting in June, the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) is reporting that Jamaica has met all structural benchmarks under the Precautionary Standby Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund based on their review of results available up to the end of May.
Structural benchmarks are reform measures that are critical to achieving programme goals and are intended as markers to assess programme implementation during a review.
According to EPOC, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has also met the seven structural benchmarks for public sector transformation, public bodies and public service reform through end May 2017.
Revenue performance continues to be strong with figures showing tax revenue intake of $33.2 billion in April 2017. According to their June Communique, EPOC expects that similar drivers of over- performance experienced last fiscal year will result in improved compliance levels in this fiscal year.
EPOC noted that recurrent expenditure for the first month of the fiscal year fell marginally below budget by $1 billion while capital expenditure exceeded budget by $4.4 million.
“We note the positive start to capital expenditure, and, given its importance as one of the main drivers of economic growth, encourage the Government to continue this pace throughout the fiscal year. An important quantitative performance criteria is the primary surplus which stood at $6.61 billion at end April ahead of the GOJ target of $5.79 billion by $820 million,” the committee stated in its June report.
According to committee co-chair Keith Duncan, the adverse weather which resulted in a 2.5 per cent decline in the agricultural sector up to March 2017 is an area of concern.
“The lack of growth raised concerns around future growth, especially as it was compounded by flood rains which caused significant damage to an ageing infrastructure,” Duncan stated.
On the other hand, Duncan believes the reopening of the Alpart Plant in St Elizabeth will have a positive impact on the growth numbers going forward.