Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has said that her administration is employing deliberate strategies to restore Jamaica to a viable economic path as quickly as possible.
This, she said, is in the face of enormous challenges. “We will first steady the good ship of Jamaica and then steer her into calmer waters toward our destination of robust economic growth and sustainable development with equity,” she said.
Speaking on Thursday March 1 at the Jamaica Investment Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, the Prime Minister told the more than 120 high net worth investors that her Cabinet has set three major objectives: fiscal discipline and prudence; appreciable and sustainable economic growth; and protection of the vulnerable in the society. “I express these objectives by stating repeatedly that ‘while we balance the books we must, at the same time, balance people’s lives,” Mrs. Simpson Miller added.
This is against the background of the harsh global economic environment, which has had an adverse impact on Jamaica’s products, tourism arrivals and the amount of money visitors spend, as well as the level of inflows of foreign exchange earnings from remittances and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“We have begun re-engaging with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with the objective of entering an agreement that will place emphasis on social stability growth, and development, based on credible and achievable macro-economic targets,” Prime Minister Simpson Miller said.
Turning to Jamaica’s Competitiveness and Doing Business ranking, the Prime Minister said she was concerned about the drop in ranking from 46 to 88 in recent times.
“My Government is determined to stop this slide and work our way back up the ranks as quickly as possible, recognising that other countries are not standing still,” she asserted, while adding that a revamped legislative agenda will help, but other measures will have to be taken.
She informed that she has already given instructions for the Public Sector Transformation Unit to give priority to urgently improving the performance of key agencies that relate to people doing business with Jamaica. This will be in keeping with the Government’s action programme, which will be further articulated in another two weeks to the Unit.
“I have asked all my portfolio Ministers to take a careful look at their departments and agencies to determine the steps that can now be taken to achieve all-round improvements,” Mrs. Simpson Miller noted.
Assuring the investors that the Government welcomed not only investments where there was collaboration with the state but also those which would be pursued solely, the Prime Minister stressed that the Government was willing to demonstrate flexibility in this regard.
“I invite you to join with us in not only fostering economic growth but also in the full development of a special people. We are a special people, who have demonstrated to the world a capability, against all odds, to equal or surpass the feats of others, who seemingly have an advantage in terms of financial resources,” the Prime Minister said.
The Jamaica Investment Forum will end on March 2 after a series of breakout sessions hosted by Ministers of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips; Science Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell; Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill; Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke; and Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson.
Spearheaded by the Government’s focal agency for investment and promotion, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and the Compete Caribbean Programme, the forum is a joint effort of the United Kingston Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with public sector partners including HEART/NTA, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
By Donna-Marie Rowe