The Government of Jamaica is offering loans of up to US$5 million for investment projects in the information and communications technology industry (ICT).
The loans, which are being provided through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), are aimed at providing “purpose-built space” for the sector, informed Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton.
Speaking at a roundtable session at the Jamaica Investment Forum, now taking place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, he said the objective is to facilitate expansion of the industry through the development of at least 350,000 square feet of appropriate ICT-ready space to accommodate tier one operators, specifically for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). The move, he said, is aimed at adding a minimum of 10,000 new ICT jobs to the Jamaican economy.
Outlining the features of the loan facility to the approximately 100 potential investors, who participated in the ICT breakout session, Minister Hylton said the maximum loan amount of US$5 million per project will represent 70 per cent of the total project cost.
The loan, he said, offers a very low interest rate of 4.5 per cent per annum on the reducing balance payable on a monthly basis, with a payback period up to a maximum of 12 years. There is a moratorium on the interest and principal during the construction period up to a maximum of 18 months, commencing from the date of first disbursement.
Minister Hylton said that the loan facility has already generated significant interest, with a number of developers ready to utilise it.
He noted that building a platform for growth in the ICT sector is central to the government’s efforts to transform the economy and develop a knowledge-based society.
He informed that in addition to the building out of space, focus will also be placed on the establishment of a BPO association, and training of the labour pool to serve the industry.
Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, in his address to the investors, said that the government’s focus on the ICT sector is not just about getting a niche area going, but to fulfill a long held vision to use ICT to transform the economy.
“This industry, ICT, is an industry that is capable of transforming the entire Jamaican economy and society, and it is that exciting prospect that we want to invite you to participate in,” he stated.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter