Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has laid out an "integrated 10-point strategy" to be implemented in order to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, Jamaica’s National Development Plan.
The plan was unveiled on Tuesday Feb. 28 at a media briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.
Minister Hylton explained that the plan comes as the Ministry focuses on restructuring and rationalising its operations to modernise the industry, stimulate investment, and facilitate commerce.
The strategic thrust, he said, takes into account the impact on the domestic business environment by the ongoing process of economic globalisation. “Consequently, it becomes necessary to put in place policies that reflect the realities of the broader economic landscape, and the need to enhance the global competitiveness of our domestic industries," he stated.
Topping the agenda is the achievement of economic growth with jobs. According to the Minister “our future as a country will be secured only by achieving sustained economic growth with jobs and improvements of the living standards of the majority of the population."
Focus will also be placed on improving the competiveness of the country’s output, through the work of the Competitiveness Council of the Ministry, housed at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), as well as a raft of legislative changes conducive to attracting investments and expanding business.
Business facilitation will be a major item, and Mr. Hylton declared that under his watch, the Ministry will become “the gateway for investments in the economy."
He said that emphasis will also be placed on improving customer service within the Ministry by making it “the ‘one-stop-shop” to facilitate all business needs, from business registration to accessing business information and data."
In this regard, he explained that the Ministry will be putting in place, a new structure that can support the “seamless integration of various agencies of the Ministry … (while), “leveraging research and technical resources in the business schools and other university departments.”
In addition, there will be an increased role for JAMPRO and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), “to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to establish markets in the Diaspora and beyond."
Minister Hylton said that JAMPRO will continue to focus on investment packaging but with “a more focussed strategy to target investors and secure investment commitments from the investor community."
He said that the Ministry will also work with other ministries of government to facilitate cross-sector investments. In particular, there will be collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining on energy investments and the building of an energy infrastructure for the country’s long-term future.
“The practice of joined–up government is especially critical to the work of my Ministry, which is responsible for facilitating investments that span the entire economy and cuts across industry sectors. Now more than ever, our work must reflect collaboration and teamwork across the different ministries of government,” Mr. Hylton stated.
While acknowledging that in recent years, Jamaica has lost ground in its business and economic competitiveness, the Minister pledged to turn the negative tide, largely through the work of JAMPRO.
"We take seriously, the results of the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 and the Doing Business Report. These reports are quite instructive, and they highlight critical areas of the economic and business environment that we will be improving. To this end I will be resuscitating and personally driving the work of the Competitiveness Council of the Ministry, housed in JAMPRO," the Minister stated.
Turning to Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSME), he stated the Ministry’s commitment to “crafting and implementing polices that foster the growth and development of this sector”.
He advised that final consultations with stakeholders on the long-awaited MSME draft policy will be undertaken, noting that “our aim is to have a Green Paper tabled in the Houses of Parliament by the end of March or early April."
Minister Hylton noted further that the various ministries, working together, will provide the support required to assist “new venture teams and entrepreneurs to get off the ground and successfully commercialise their business ideas using the widest range of models available."
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter