Drafting instructions prepared for Fiscal Council

Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says drafting instructions are being prepared for issue to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) to facilitate the establishment of the proposed Fiscal Council.

Official Photo of Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke

The Council will replace the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) as the independent monitoring body for Jamaica’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP).

Chairman, Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC)

“I have given a public commitment to table a draft of the legislation that will give rise to a Fiscal Council, by April 2020,” the Minister said.

He was speaking at a media round table at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on Friday (September 20).

Dr. Clarke reiterated that the Council will be the final arbiter of Jamaica’s Fiscal Rules that stipulate, among other things, a debt-reduction target of 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by financial year 2025/26.

The rules, he said, also prescribe the fiscal balance that Jamaica needs to maintain in order to achieve that target.

Dr. Clarke explained that in its role as EPOC’s successor, the Council will make independent commentary on the Fiscal Policy Paper, laid in Parliament simultaneously with the Budget, which outlines a medium-term profile and projections.

Additionally, he said the Council will comment, independently, on the interim Fiscal Policy that is laid in the House in September each year, and will have access, via legislation, to data from the Ministry and other government agencies.

The Minister advised that the Council’s members will be required to make periodic statements publicly about Jamaica’s fiscal trajectory and whether government policies are broadly consistent with those objectives.

“What they [are] concerned with is the envelope of expenditure and whether that broad envelope is consistent with a long-term debt objective and sustainability over time,” Dr. Clarke noted.

He added that the Council’s establishment “will promote fiscal transparency and lead to greater incentives for a government pursuing polices that are credible and greater disincentives for governments doing things that are not”.

EPOC, which was established in 2013 when the country entered into the four-year Extended Fund Facility (EEF) with the IMF, was supposed to have concluded at the end of the three-year Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement in November 2019. However, the life of the Committee has been extended until the Fiscal Council is in place.