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Shaw just does not understand says Peter Phillips

Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Peter Phillips
KINGSTON, November 24, 2014 - Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips says statements by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audey Shaw regarding the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, EPOC are rather unfortunate.

Referring to  the Co-Chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee, EPOC, Shaw recently expressed criticism that a private sector individual was acting as the mouthpiece for the government, in making monthly pronouncements on the IMF programme.  

Following closely on an expression of confidence in Richard Byles as EPOC Co-Chair by the Private Sector Organisation of  Jamaica, the Finance Minister has defended the role that the committee was playing in the realignment of the economy. He says Mr. Shaw appears to be unfamiliar with EPOC's purpose.

"It came out of an insistence, both on the part of the private sector and on the part of the trade unions and other civil society leadership, who were being asked to sacrifice in order to secure the fund programme," he explained in an interview with Radio Jamaica.

The aim of EPOC, he said, was to facilitate "access to all the information, such that they could be assured that the Government was going to be living up to its obligations under the programme."

He added that he, as Finance Minister, has no prior knowledge of what Mr. Byles, as EPOC Co-Chairman, says in his quarterly statements on the state of the economy, and has no desire to know.

In the meantime, the Finance Minister has deplored criticisms levelled against  him by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw for the write-off by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) of a debt which was owed by the theme park - Outameni Experience.

The decision to write off the debt, was made as far back as 2011, under the Administration of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), in which Mr. Shaw was a Minister. The DBJ was then an agency of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Shaw sought to hold Dr. Phillips accountable for it, during his address at the JLP's Annual Conference on November 16.

The matter was subsequently clarified by the DBJ, in a public statement.
Dr. Phillips, when asked to comment on the issue, said the DBJ's Board made decisions, based on the status of  the debt, and should be allowed to make such decisions without interference by the Minister.

He said it was not brought to his attention when the decision was being made to write off the debt. "I certainly wouldn't want to have a say on each decision that the Board is taking regarding specific accounts. In fact, I think that would be a recipe for bad governance," he said.

Last modified onMonday, 24 November 2014 16:09