EGC Focused on Improving National Security and the Business Environment

Photo: Dave Reid Photo Economic Growth Council (EGC) Chairman, Michael Lee-Chin (left), addresses Thursday’s (January 26) quarterly media briefing at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. Seated (from left) are EGC Deputy Chairman, Ambassador Nigel Clarke; and members, Adam Stewart and Pat Ramsay.

Story Highlights

  • The Economic Growth Council (EGC) will be placing particular focus on developing measures to improve national security and the business environment.
  • The broad areas to be covered are: police reform, including a new Police Act; the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) as a separate entity (from the JCF); further improvement of the justice sector; border security; effective use of technology; and (creating) safe communities.
  • Mr. Lee-Chin assured that the EGC will be working “tirelessly” with the Government to ensure the implementation of all their commitments in keeping with the new IMF agreement.

The Economic Growth Council (EGC) will be placing particular focus on developing measures to improve national security and the business environment.

This was disclosed by the entity’s Chairman, Michael Lee-Chin, while delivering the first quarterly report covering the period October to December 2016, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on January 26.

He said that preserving the nation’s security “has to be at the foundation of all other things that we do.”

He noted that the Government appointed a National Security Advisor in the person of former Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major General Antony Anderson, while the EGC had consultations with several stakeholder Ministries and Agencies to formulate a comprehensive and integrated approach.

Those stakeholders include: the Ministries of National Security, Justice, and Economic Growth and Job Creation; as well as the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); Social Development Commission (SDC); Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); and JDF.

The broad areas to be covered are: police reform, including a new Police Act; the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) as a separate entity (from the JCF); further improvement of the justice sector; border security; effective use of technology; and (creating) safe communities.

In relation to improving the business environment, Mr. Lee-Chin said the Government is addressing this issue “wholeheartedly” in order to expand domestic and foreign investments.

He said the areas of focus are improving the licensing and permitting regimes; reducing the development approval timeline; and instituting public procurement regulations.

Mr. Lee-Chin said the EGC would be reporting on these during its quarterly report and briefing for the January to March period.

Meanwhile, he advised that three targets under the EGC’s eight initiatives, focusing on generating five per cent growth over the next four years, have been met.

These include: the tabling of the Building Bill in Parliament; the Bank of Jamaica’s (BoJ) finalisation of the Terms of Reference for Banking Competition Review; and amendment of the BoJ regulations to enable capital relief for portions of small and medium enterprise (SME) loans that have Development Bank of Jamaica
(DBJ)-guarantee under the latter’s Credit Enhancement Facility programme, where that provision is backed by segregated funds.

Mr. Lee-Chin said all these targets, which had completion timelines of December 2016 and March 2017 as outlined in the EGC’s policy recommendations matrix, were met well ahead of time.

He said the Government is ahead of schedule on work to review and reduce the Minimum Capital Test (MCT) for insurance companies.

He noted that the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which is undertaking the work, had a March 2017 deadline to review the capital requirements for property and casualty insurance companies, and they have already reduced it from 250 to 150 per cent.

This, he said, has effectively “freed up $300 million…in available capital that can now flow into the productive sector.”

Mr. Lee-Chin assured that the EGC will be working “tirelessly” with the Government to ensure the implementation of all their commitments in keeping with the new IMF agreement.

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