Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, said the government is working assiduously to improve Jamaica’s global competitiveness ranking, following a significant decline over the last year.
She said to achieve this goal, the Ministry will be working to remove many of the significant hindrances to doing business that now exist and secure solid investments for the country.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams was speaking at the media launch of the University of Technology’s (UTech) 31st Annual Marketing Seminar held on March 21 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Data from the 2012 Doing Business Report indicates that Jamaica achieved a rank of 88 down from 85 in 2011. The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 also showed that Jamaica’s ranking fell from 95 to 107 on a list of 142 economies, which was the highest drop among Central American and Caribbean countries.
“We have to reverse this trend,” Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said. “Clearly, we did lose some ground in terms of our business and economic competitiveness. However, we must make our environment more competitive and I believe that we are up to the task."
She said the government’s main objective now is to develop world-class enterprises to drive Jamaica’s competitiveness in global markets.
She informed that the Ministry, through the National Competitiveness Council, will be targeting critical areas in the business environment, while working with other Ministries to address the major impediments to doing business and investment.
“It takes far too long. The bureaucracy that is strangling business and frustrating entrepreneurs must be addressed in a serious, dedicated and comprehensive way,” she said.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams noted further that, working through the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), focus will be placed on garnering the investments necessary to expand the domestic economy and to remove the barriers to the development of industry. In addition, she said, the government intends to continue its efforts to stimulate entrepreneurial growth, particularly in the form of startups and early stage ventures.
The agencies of the Ministry, she informed, including the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), will be working together to provide the necessary support to assist entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground.
“We’re making a commitment to the medium, small and micro enterprises to stand behind you and to make sure that you are successful…. both locally and globally. Policies are being implemented to further the growth and development of this sector,” she remarked.
She said the administration is also dedicated to improving upon the public sector delivery system at all levels of government in order for it to function effectively and efficiently as the facilitator of private sector endeavours.
In his remarks, Chairman, UTech’s Marketing Seminar, Oroyo Eubanks, said with the impending International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, it is important that Jamaica addresses its global competitiveness and improve its performance in critical sectors that will benefit the country’s economy.
He further added that it is incumbent on tertiary level students to make a contribution to Jamaica’s growth and development, pointing out that the annual seminar provides an avenue for change to improve the country’s economic situation.
UTech's Marketing Seminar will take place at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on March 28, under the theme: ‘Improving Global Competitiveness: Profitable Possibilities through Strategic Management’.
The event is organised by final year marketing students and is in keeping with the university’s Week of Excellence celebrations.
A major focus of the annual seminar will be to assess the reasons Jamaica has slipped in its global competitiveness ranking and identify applicable solutions to achieving a turnaround.
The students also intend to discuss major contributing factors such as the cost of electricity; crime and security; technology innovation; fiscal and debt dynamics; and other socio-economic factors.
Speakers will include representatives from the political arena, economists, entrepreneurs, marketers and noted private sector leaders.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter