Gov’t Seeking to Maintain Growth Momentum

Photo: JIS Photographer Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government is seeking to maintain and build on the momentum resulting from the 2.2 per cent rate of economic growth recorded during the July to September quarter.
  • In reiterating that this was the highest out-turn since 2007, Mr. Shaw said Jamaica’s macroeconomic environment was stabilising, with the prospects for further growth being “excellent.”
  • Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw is encouraging small and medium-size (SME) business owners seeking to access the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) $2.4 billion loan facility, to ensure their operations are in good standing.

Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government is seeking to maintain and build on the momentum resulting from the 2.2 per cent rate of economic growth recorded during the July to September quarter.

In reiterating that this was the highest out-turn since 2007, Mr. Shaw said Jamaica’s macroeconomic environment was stabilising, with the prospects for further growth being “excellent.”

This, he contended, was the case, particularly for agriculture, in light of the 3,300 new hotel rooms coming on stream this year, adding that tourism “provides a vital linkage to agriculture.”

He was speaking at a recent press conference at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle offices in Kingston.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw advised that the Jamaican dollar was regaining the confidence of key stakeholders.

This, he said, was consequent on its stabilisation resulting from inputs by a special working group which he established to address the currency’s depreciation, in consultation with the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ).

The Minister further said that interest rates were falling, while the current account deficit had narrowed to a “relatively low” 1.8 per cent, down from double digits.

He advised that Jamaica was meeting its benchmark targets under the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$1.64 billion precautionary Standby Agreement (SBA), and assured that the Administration would do everything necessary to generate sustainable economic growth.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw is encouraging small and medium-size (SME) business owners seeking to access the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) $2.4 billion loan facility, to ensure their operations are in good standing.

He said despite a relaxation in the loan collateral requirement, SME stakeholders must ensure their operations are properly structured, in keeping with the governing stipulations.

“All potential (beneficiaries) of these loans must understand that we expect a serious approach to doing business,” Mr. Shaw emphasised.

The DBJ has relaxed its qualifying stipulations for the loan provision, by incorporating non-traditional collateral among the prerequisites.

A Government policy decision has allowed the BoJ to reduce risks associated with loans issued by deposit-taking institutions that are guaranteed by the DBJ.

In 2009, the Administration launched the Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF), as a pilot project, to increase access to credit for SMEs that lacked adequate collateral to secure loans.

Recently, following recommendations from the Economic Growth Council (EGC), the BoJ reduced risk-weighting for DBJ-backed loans under the CEF.

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