Jamaica Observer / MINISTER of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke says technocratic staff for the proposed fiscal council will be chosen based on high levels of competence and skills. “We want highly skilled persons who understand fiscal policy [and] economics, and who have some amount of experience and analytical capability… and the ability to communicate,” he said.

He was speaking at the Caribbean Policy Research Institute public forum on the independent fiscal council at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge last Thursday.

Dr Clarke said that public consultations will play a part in determining the composition of the body, which will replace the Economic Programme Oversight Committee.

“I believe our consultants have heard the views of the many people they have spoken to [and]… those views will be considered. I am looking forward to the report that they will produce,” he said.

He noted further that considerations and appointments will be done in a manner that ensures inclusion, diversity and broad ownership of the path of fiscal discipline being embarked on by the Government.

Fiscal councils are permanent, independent, non-partisan institutions that are created by legislation and staffed by competent, experienced and technically proficient individuals who help to promote economically sustainable fiscal policies across political cycles.

The move to create such a body in Jamaica is consistent with the Government’s plans to secure the country’s gains under successive economic reform programmes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and build on the success of domestic partnership initiatives.

The undertaking will be a pivotal part of Jamaica’s engagements in the post-IMF era, when the current US$1.7-billion Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement concludes in November 2019.

Dr Clarke noted that countries that have experienced challenges with credibility and accountability in their fiscal affairs have turned to institutions such as fiscal councils to restore faith and confidence in their economies.

“Usually countries have arrived at this [decision]during a crisis. We are doing this at a time that we are not in crisis… which I think is unique. But it will serve the purpose of ensuring, long into the future, that Jamaica can retain a credible path fiscally,” he said.

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