JIS News

The Government is making approximately 200,000 square feet (sq ft) of factory space available for rental to small businesses engaged in manufacturing, as part of initiatives to boost productivity in the sector.

“We have under management at the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) 1.9 million sq ft comprising 43 buildings, 21 of which are fully occupied, 14 are partially occupied and eight are unoccupied of which three can be used now,” said Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda.

He said that of the 200,000 sq. ft. available, “we are prepared to cut it up into small units to make it possible for small players, who cannot afford a 6,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. space, to participate”.

 The Minister was addressing the sixth Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) investment and capital market seminar on Wednesday (January 26) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.

He said the move is part of Government’s plans for the expansion and growth of the manufacturing sector, which has been declining in output over the past several years.

“We have also introduced a programme whereby for the first year, new players coming on the scene or existing players creating jobs can get free factory space as long as it is in manufacturing for the first year. The second and third year, you pay only 50 per cent of rent,” he informed.

Minister Samuda said that despite several initiatives over the past five years to boost manufacturing, including the removal of taxes, lowering of interest rates on loans, the sector has become less productive.

Citing statistics, he said that output has decreased by two thirds over the past five years and that the sector now contributes only 8.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) whereas years ago it contributed somewhere in the region of 20 per cent.

In the meantime, the Minister is encouraging entrepreneurs to get involved in manufacturing.

“We encourage you, if you want to go into manufacturing, take a ride up to the Scientific Research Council (SRC) if you have a good idea in agro-industry and acquire the technology from them and put it into action,” he suggested.

Minister Samuda pointed out that conditions are now more favourable to start entrepreneurial activities than in previous years.

“Right now is the time to start something… (because) remember that by 2015 a number of the incentives that now exist, such as the incentives for the free zones…they are going to go under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement worldwide. You won’t have those incentives anymore. So, we must now begin to work on those mechanisms internally to give you a chance so that you become competitive not only in Jamaica but in the external market as well,” he stated.