The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) will be providing an additional $10 billion to partner with approved financial institutions (AFIs) for onlending to specific productive sectors, particularly agriculture, in light of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the funds are being provided at a 0.75 per cent reduced interest rate.
Mr. Holness advised that the reduction, which also applies to existing loans facilitated by the DBJ under an initial $10 billion in loan guarantee agreements with seven AFIs, will be in effect for the next two months.
He made the announcement during his contribution to the 2020/21 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday (March 19), under the theme ‘Towards a Decade of Growth to Anchor Our Peace, Prosperity and Resilience’.
Mr. Holness said the interventions, particularly targeting agriculture, are imperative, as “the current (COVID-19) crisis, with the shutdown of transportation and interruption of global supply chains, has brought home clearly the need for our food security”.
“Now is the time for innovative and industrial-type agricultural projects, which will use large acreages and employ large numbers of workers, link vertically to manufacturing and tourism, and produce crops that will substitute imports for our long-term food self-sufficiency and security,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
He further argued that “now is the time for enterprising farmers (big or small) and businessmen (big or small) to utilise idle lands, including idle sugar lands, right across Jamaica. Now more than ever we must feed ourselves.”.
Mr. Holness also advised that the DBJ will extend a two-month moratorium on business process outsourcing (BPO) clients’ loan repayments on both the principal and interest upon request, should this be required.
“In times of crises, the natural emotional response is for businesses to pull back because of uncertainty in the future. This current threat will pass, and this Government, while taking the necessary measures to protect the health of people, is also taking the necessary measures to protect the livelihood of the people,” the Prime Minister said.