JIS News

Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Omar Davies on Thursday (Nov. 2) signed the special Export Growth Initiative Agreement, which will see exporters benefiting from a maximum loan amount of US$300,000 per borrower at a seven per cent interest rate. The tenure will be for four years inclusive of a one-year moratorium.
The agreement was signed at the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) held at the, Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston. In addressing the JEA members Minister Davies expressed pleasure at being a part of the initiative and challenged the members to adequately utilize these funds. “I am particularly pleased about this initiative for a host of reasons. The first is that I was the one who signed the initial loan agreement with the World Bank,” he said. Dr. Davies said the initial loan agreement was for $35 million but that the government unlent a portion to the JEA at zero interest rate, which in turn allowed them to unlend at three per cent. “They were able to make the 3 percent off the backs of the government and the people of Jamaica and it was a good initiative,” he said.
The Finance Minister said the initiative was a success in that the JEA was able to unlend the initial loan and collected back the funds. It was on this basis that the JEA’s proposal to re-borrow the funds was immediately approved. Minister Davies pointed out that what the government had done was allow the JEA to utilize the repayment reflows and then unlend again as part of this new loan agreement.
Minister Davies said the only contingence to the JEA acquiring the funds under this agreement was to have discussions with the EXIM bank to put certain mechanism in place. “What you are seeing here represents the works from those institution plus the Ministry of Finance in finalizing the details on this project,” he said.
“I wish to be challenged. I would like to see you utilize those resources as quickly as possible and then we see whether we can extend it and if you don’t utilize it then give me back our money,” he told the members.
He also challenged the JEA to access the funds which he said were not only limited to producers of goods but of services as well. “It is not restricted to manufacturers per say but it is also restricted to persons who earn money through services and earn foreign exchange,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of the JEA, Dr. Andre Gordon explained that the loans were intended to help finance export expansion and may be used for, but were not necessarily limited to, working capital marketing equipment acquisition, technical assistance, human resource development, plant expansion, restructuring, and replanting of fields.
Loans will be made to companies approved by the JEA and considered capable of meeting agreed targets for export earnings job creation and investment. The general conditions governing the disbursement of these loans are that loans will only be provided to companies that are in good standing with the Government of Jamaica regarding payment of taxes.
Loans will also be made to companies that are deemed capable of meeting specific agreed targets for export earnings, job creation and investment.
In order to participate in the programme, eligible borrowers must be established exporters with a proven track record or new exporters who have developed a feasible and comprehensive programme in terms of marketing, technical assistance, plant upgrade, and financing. In addition all loans will be fully secured by Guarantees from commercial banks and approved financial institutions.

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