- Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson, has commended the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) for using job creation as a basis for rewarding businesses.
- Dr. Robertson made the statement at the PSOJ Job Creation Awards Ceremony, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, on Tuesday (Nov. 26).
Minister of Development, Dr. Paul Robertson, has commended the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) for using job creation as a basis for rewarding businesses. Dr. Robertson made the statement at the PSOJ Job Creation Awards Ceremony, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, on Tuesday (Nov. 26). “For too long”, he said, “job creation has been seen as primarily the responsibility of the government, a mind set that has fed the dependence on politicians to expand the public sector as a means of providing employment, which has led to the over staffing of state agencies and the attendant inefficiencies and budgetary problems”.He noted that job creation, which the PSOJ had singled out, was also being given priority attention by the government and was at the center of the economic programme for the next five years. “It has been well recognized, as part of the reforms, which is well on the way since the mid 1980s, that the expansion of the economy, and therefore, the employment opportunities, can only be driven in reality by private sector activity,” he said.The Minister of Development added that, “what is required of the state is the establishment of the appropriate macroeconomic framework, and the streamlining of the bureaucracy to facilitate investment and efficient operations of firms”, citing in that regard, the work being done at the Customs Department.
Dr. Robertson said that much progress had been achieved in terms of the stabilization of the macro economy, which is an ongoing process. Noting that inflation has been tamed, leading to five consecutive years of single digit inflation, which was good news for businesses and workers, and that the foreign exchange market had been liberalized and stabilized, he said these steps provided for a reasonably predictable environment in which to conduct business. However, he said they must continue to streamline the bureaucracy, and press ahead with the modernization of critical departments, such as Customs, Inland Revenue, and the Registrar of Companies, among others. Noting that import restrictions had been removed, he said with the strong Net International Reserve (NIR), businesses are in a better position at this time, to pay their bills on time and therefore, enjoy reasonably favorable credit arrangements. But much more remains to be done, to speed up the various approval process for investment and development projects, he said, noting that under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the PSOJ and the Government, there were identified areas which were being pursued to improve business facilitation.
He announced that a further initiative was shortly to be undertaken to cut red tape, citing the “Legs and Regs” project, which is a scheme of the private sector with the assistance of the USAID to establish a mechanism at the Cabinet Office to pin point bureaucratic obstacles, and introduce measures to remove them. In order to facilitate this, the PSOJ is to assign a special person to work with the Cabinet office.
Dr. Robertson challenged the PSOJ to expand the criteria to include consideration for opportunities that would benefit young people and women, or separate awards that favor these categories.
Also noting the inclusion of the small business sector for awards, he said this was reflective of the significant role, which the sector plays in economic expansion and job creation. He said small businesses are a dynamic aspect of modern economies, especially in terms of job creation and the bolstering of the entrepreneurial spirit that is vital for the building of a market economy.
He said, while the government was involved in the promotion of investment and improvement of business facilitation, it also concentrated on investment in infrastructure projects that are critical for economic activity. But Private capital, he assured, would also be encouraged in large-scale infrastructure projects, such as highways, airports, telecommunications, and electricity. He said the PSOJ’s initiative, was complemented by several government programmes which provide technical assistance to small and medium sized businesses, and those who wish to start their own business, pointing to the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) and JAMPRO amongst others. He said the need to restructure and modernize for global competitiveness has put pressure on job creation, especially in the manufacturing, financial and agricultural sectors. However, as the economy became more competitive, “we have to move aggressively to encourage business expansion, as the PSOJ awards are attempting to do”.
Dr. Robertson commended the effort of the PSOJ, and congratulated the awardees – Hawkeye Electronic Security, Anbell, Bashco Trading, and Gentle Printers – for their valuable contribution to the growth and development of Jamaica.