Prime Minister Pleased With Partnership Among Sectors


Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has said that he was pleased that all sectors of the society were coming together in partnership for sustainable economic development as Jamaica continued to strengthen its international alliances and explore every avenue that would lead to economic growth.
Mr. Patterson was speaking during a national broadcast on Sunday (Jan. 11), which was recorded before his trip to Monterrey, Mexico, where he is now participating in a Special Session of the Summit of the Americas.
“The Trade Unions have clearly indicated their intention to show responsible leadership as they carry out their duties for the workers they represent,” Mr. Patterson said, “the private sector has come forward in a new spirit of constructive cooperation. The consultations between all sectors are exceedingly encouraging”.
He added, “What this means is that the confidence factor, which plays such a crucial role in any economic environment, is getting stronger, an excellent precursor to strong and sustained growth”.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the mining sector had seen aggressive growth with bauxite/alumina production and exports showing continued growth in alumina output, based on plant expansions now in progress. He said gross foreign earnings reflected this as well as the effect of higher alumina prices anticipated for this year and for 2005. The reform of tax arrangements undertaken by the government, had been a major factor in boosting these investments, he further said.
Meanwhile, agriculture had recovered from the spate of disasters of previous years, he stated, noting that in the third quarter of 2003, domestic crop production increased by just over 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2002. The crop production development and marketing programme now being carried out by the Jamaica Agricultural Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is expected to continue to pay dividends both in terms of employment and foreign exchange earnings, he said.
Turning to housing, Mr. Patterson informed that work on Phase 1 of the Inner City Housing project for which contracts were signed late last year would begin in a few weeks, while the special rural housing programme, which was part of that same initiative, was ready to begin.
Pointing out that all these investments would open possibilities for employment, he said the HEART/Trust NTA had been instructed to provide whatever training was necessary so that the country’s work force was equipped to provide a labour force, which was competitive and could increase productivity.
“In the meantime, business confidence continues to grow. Several companies are doing well. This was reflected in their profit margins, expansion and price of their shares,” the Prime Minister said, noting that the stock market had recorded one of its best years with a 49 per cent growth, the highest in the Caribbean and one of the highest in the world. In addition, he said, a number of major private sector investment projects were in place, including a $1.2 billion expansion of beer production by Red Stripe; a $1 billion fishing operation at Port Royal Fisheries, which would begin shortly; the Boss Furniture factory in downtown Kingston and Walkerswood Caribbean Foods in St. Ann, which were also expanding.
“The resuscitation of the manufacturing sector is crucial because of its potential for providing employment and containing imports. A working group is reviewing proposals put forward by the Jamaica Manufacturers Association and the JAS for a restructuring programme designed to assist small and medium sized firms,” he said, adding that the team would report to the Development Council on Wednesday (January 14).

JIS Social