JIS News

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies, has said that Jamaica’s economic environment, despite past challenges, was reflecting commendable positives and was “ripe” for investments, with noticeable growth in the financial sector.
The Minister also cited the expected development and empowerment of the region’s stock markets.
Addressing the opening banquet of the second regional conference on Investments and the Capital Markets, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay on January 10, Dr. Davies pointed out that the country’s financial sector, for the past four years, had contributed an average 8 per cent to real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.
“The Jamaican financial sector now exists in an environment that is characterized by stable macro-economic fundamentals, including inflation, which has returned to single digit, government interest rates that are at their lowest levels in over 20 years, and a stable exchange rate system, supported by a healthy Net International Reserve (NIR), amounting to US$2.3 billion,” he said.
“If the stock markets in our region are to live up to their true potential, further growth and development within the financial sector is necessary, both in terms of quantity of players and quality and diversity of products and services offered,” Dr. Davies stressed.
Highlighting other areas of economic development in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region, the Finance Minister made special mention of pension funds, which he said was a major frontier that would require a regional focus in order to improve its regulatory framework.
“Pension funds constitute one of the most significant pools of long-term financing, which can be exploited to spur economic development. Given this reality, it is important that regional regulators seek to bring this whole area under a uniform regulatory framework, consistent with what is taking place in the securities industry, or at the very least, that there be increased regional collaboration to get the different territories on the same footing,” he said.
He explained that if pension funds were properly managed, they could provide much of the capital needs of the region to spur the economic growth required. The challenge, Dr. Davies stressed, was for the financial sector to develop products consistent with the portfolio needs of the pension fund managers.
The three-day conference, scheduled to end on January 12, is being held under the theme – ‘The global response: strategies and innovations for regional capital markets growth”.
Among the many topics to be discussed are: ‘Vision pursued – promise realized’; ‘Moving regional regulation to enhance Caribbean integration: where are we now?’; ‘New products and innovations’; ‘Alternative investments’; ‘Building financial infrastructure: corporate services’; and ‘Strides in telemedicine’.

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