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  • Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, has charged the private sector to work with the Government in setting up a US$1 billion fund to finance projects in high growth sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO) and agriculture.
  • He noted that the US$ 2 billion raised on the international capital market to pay down the country’s PetroCaribe debt, will provide the Government with access to some US$500 million of “back up funding.”
  • He proposed that this money be used for the implementation of major job creation projects.

Co-Chairman of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, has charged the private sector to work with the Government in setting up a US$1 billion fund to finance projects in high growth sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO) and agriculture.

He noted that the US$ 2 billion raised on the international capital market to pay down the country’s PetroCaribe debt, will provide the Government with access to some US$500 million of “back up funding.”

He proposed that this money be used for the implementation of major job creation projects.

Mr. Byles, who was addressing the launch of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 16th ‘Mobay Expo’ at the Wexford Hotel in the city earlier on Wednesday, July 29,  challenged the private sector to step up to the plate and match that US$500 million.

“Let us have a billion dollar fund and take that fund and invest it in projects, in economic activities that are productive, that give permanent jobs to Jamaicans,” he urged.

Mr. Byles said once members of the private sector come on board, “they must be given the assurance that the US$1billion is going to be spent in a productive, constructive manner and not fritted away to give some jobs today and for there to be no jobs tomorrow”.

He pointed out that the construction of a technology park with some of the funds will create jobs and will attract investors in the BPO sector, while investments in the agricultural sector, using technology and modern equipment, will play a key role in the country’s economic development.

Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Dr. Phillips, announced earlier this week, that the Government was able to raise US$1.35 billion at a rate of 6.75 per cent and secured a 30-year issue for $650 million at 7.87 per cent,  which will enable the Government to buy back a substantial portion of the country’s debt to Venezuela.

The PetroCaribe Agreement was established under the leadership of the late President of Venezuela, His Excellency Hugo Chávez, in response to the sudden increase in international oil prices.