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  • Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says a Cabinet sub-committee has been established to strengthen the link between the Government and the private sector, particularly as it relates to facilitating activities to spur economic growth.
  • Additionally, he says the growth agenda subcommittee will also oversee activities pertaining to public sector transformation, and public investments, which are also expected to drive growth.
  • The Finance Minister said following discussions with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Administration will be exploring how best the organiSation’s members and other key stakeholders can be further incorporated into the overall process.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says a Cabinet sub-committee has been established to strengthen the link between the Government and the private sector, particularly as it relates to facilitating activities to spur economic growth.

Additionally, he says the growth agenda subcommittee will also oversee activities pertaining to public sector transformation, and public investments, which are also expected to drive growth.

In this regard, the Finance Minister said following discussions with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Administration will be exploring how best the organiSation’s members and other key stakeholders can be further incorporated into the overall process.

Dr. Phillips was speaking at the PSOJ’s annual economic forum, held under the theme: ‘Imperatives for Growth – Options and Opportunities’, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on July 7.

Noting that economic growth will only result from a combination of sustained fiscal prudence, public sector reforms, “and working closely with the stakeholders,”

Dr. Phillips said it will also require the Administration’s “efficient” implementation of projects, “especially where we interface with the private sector community.”

Some key projects currently underway, which the Minister said will help to facilitate and engender growth, include those in: energy; tourism; agriculture; Business Process Outsourcing (BPO); and infrastructure development.

As it relates to energy, Dr. Phillips advised that major investments are being undertaken, targeting renewable options.

“As was reported by the Energy Sector Enterprise Team (ESET), we are on track for replacing our main fuel source, which is currently heavy fuel oil, with natural gas…and replacing the (current) baseload generators, with new generating capacity,” he outlined.

Additionally, Dr. Phillips said investments currently being undertaken in wind and solar energy projects are expected to generate 15 per cent of total electricity output from renewable energy.

In tourism, the Minister informed that there are currently some 3,000 additional hotel rooms at various stages of completion, and that an additional 4,000 rooms are expected to be constructed consequent on the granting of integrated resort development licences, and “other private investments in the pipeline.”

He  said that agriculture remains an “important driver” of economic growth,  and  that there is need to undertake “major infrastructural developments” within the sector, over time.

These, he said, relate primarily to the installation of adequate modern irrigation systems, pointing out that “too much of our agriculture remains dependent on rainfall.”

He said the agro-park initiative represents “an important start” in the process.

In relation to the BPO industry, Dr. Phillips said it represents one of the “very bright spots” for the economy, particularly for jobs, pointing out that it provides an opportunity for “our educated labour force to secure employment.”

The Minister advised that, currently, there is a five-year plan that the Government has adopted to double employment within the industry, which stands at approximately 17,000. “I believe that represents a conservative estimate of what is possible in that sector,” he added.

Dr. Phillips further  said that the sector’s development is being “substantially” driven by funding support totalling some US$20 million from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), which is on-lending  the money to facilitate BPO operations.

The Minister also underscored the importance of infrastructure development currently underway, which he deemed pivotal in positioning Jamaica as a potential Caribbean logistics centre.

To this end, he highlighted privatisation work being done in relation to the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT), and Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), as well as engagements pertaining to the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC), and the North/South segment of Highway 2000.

Dr. Phillips advised that the concession agreement for the KCT’s privatisation “is on track,” the selection of bidders for NMIA is in the ‘final stages”, while the due diligence process for the JRC is currently underway.

The PSOJ forum also featured presentations and a panel discussion involving a wide cross section of public and private sector stakeholders.

They included: President and Chief Executive Officer, Port Authority of Jamaica, Professor Gordon Shirley; and Chairman of the DBJ, Joseph M. Matalon.