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Cabinet has approved a submission to set up a statutory body to focus on the development of a financial centre, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Don Wehby,has said.
A board will be announced shortly and a special consultant appointed to fast-track the necessary legislation, Senator Wehby also stated.
The announcement was one of several major projects in the pipeline which he disclosed to the first Jamaica-UK Investment Forum, in London, on Thursday (February 5).
Senator Wehby told the Forum that Jamaica had a great competitive advantage in the financial services area.
In an interview with JIS news, he added that, despite the world economic downturn, it was the right time for Jamaica to move to create this sector.
“The question is being asked if this is the right time to set up an international financial centre. I think this is the best time, because what it gives us is the time to put in the framework and the legislation in a proper way,” Senator Wehby commented.
“And what I have said to my colleagues back home is that, we only have one chance to get this thing right the first time. Because the market is now down, we can spend lot of time doing the background work and getting it right, in terms of the legislation and the marketing. I think it is the right time,” he said.
Senator Wehby said that Jamaica should enter the market as a mid-value competitor, with a specific niche that could include sports and entertainment
“In terms of the structure, we have spent a lot of time on this. We have engaged top professionals to look at Jamaica, to see if there is a competitive marketing edge that we might have because we are late in the market. They came back to us and said, yes Jamaica can in fact enter the market with a competitive advantage, if we enter as a mid-value competitor with a specific niche and among those they identified were sports and entertainment,” he explained.
“The idea is, therefore, to attract sportsmen and women from all over the world to have their offshore planning done in Jamaica,” the Minister said.
Other major projects he highlighted included the US$5 billion Harmony Cove development, which will include casino gaming in addition to some 8,000 new rooms, as well as the US$1.8 billion Celebration development in Montego Bay.
The Jamaica-United Kingdom Forum was organised by Jamaica Trade and Invest and Developing Markets Associates.
The forum also featured presentations by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, and Minister of Investment, Industry and Commerce, the Hon.Karl Samuda.