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The Government is committed to reversing negative perceptions of Jamaica as a business-friendly destination, by making a real and lasting impact on the national business environment.

Prime Minister, the Most. Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, made this declaration while addressing the official opening of the ATL Automotive Volkswagen Modular Showroom and Audi Terminal, on Oxford Road, St. Andrew on Friday, April 19.

She disclosed that work to achieve the improvements is being done through the National Competitiveness Council, chaired by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, with active participation from the Private Sector.

“Minister Hylton and his team are charged with plotting an upward path to advance Jamaica’s position in the rankings, by taking the required actions, in partnership with the wider public and the private sectors, to address the complex issues affecting national productivity and global competitiveness,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She also called for a new culture of customer service at all levels in the public and private sector, premised on quality, speedy response and innovative practices, which empowers workers to exercise greater discretion and appropriate attitudes in delivering excellence every time.

She noted that Government has tried many initiatives in the past to encourage greater levels of customer service and so it is time to consider a classic Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The Prime Minister congratulated the ATL team, inclusive of Chairman, Hon. Gordon Butch Stewart, and son and Chief Executive Officer, ATL Automotive, Adam Stewart, for their level of service in delivering high customer satisfaction over the years.

“I regard the ATL brand as a high quality Jamaican brand and an important local benchmark against which we can define and implement a new service culture in Jamaica. This is an urgent need when we consider that in excess of 70 per cent of the Jamaican economy comprises service industries like the dynamic automotive sector,”

Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She challenged the ATL team, to consider how it could partner with Government “to find solutions to this thorny problem (of poor customer service), which if you think about it, is at the heart of our less than desirable position in the Global Competitiveness Rankings.”

For his part, Adam Stewart, noted that the company, began 45 years old ago with a vision to give customers more than they expect.

“We would never stand here and say that we get it right every time, but we certainly stand here and say that every time there is an issue, we take that phone call and make it right,” he said, in explaining the company’s philosophy of good customer service.

He disclosed that the new-car sector is important to Jamaica, noting that in addition to the import duties that are being paid, the sector also employs and trains many Jamaicans in a specialised field.

The new facility, which employs 120 persons on site, was constructed at a cost of US$13.5 million, representing the largest investment by any automotive company in Jamaica’s history.

By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter