Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton has assured manufacturers that the sector, under his watch, will regain its status as a critical driver of economic growth and development.
Addressing a delegation from the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) at the Ministry’s New Kingston Offices yesterday morning, (January 16), Minister Hylton observed that the new government does not intend to grow the economy on one leg.
He stated that although the services sector, was a major area of growth potential, he viewed manufacturing "as a key part of industry to attract investments, earn foreign exchange and generate employment."
Critical issues to be addressed include trade relations with Trinidad and Tobago, the government’s procurement policy (including the purchase of locally produced goods), marketing and promotions and support for research and development.
Vice President of the JMA, Metry Seaga who led the delegation, which included immediate past President, Omar Azan; Executive Director, Imega Breese McNab; and Executive Member, Vaughn Morris, implored the new Minister to forge an activist partnership with manufacturers, and facilitate the revival of the sector.
"We need more on the ground involvement," he maintained, and invited the Minister to attend the quarterly meetings of the JMA.
The JMA is also calling for the establishment of a Manufacturing Advisory Board to interface with the Ministry by representing the interests of all manufacturers and participate in policy formation and implementation, in order "to take manufacturing forward."
Emphasising the rationale for greater state support for the manufacturing sector, the JMA Vice President said that the sector contributes eight per cent to the country's GDP, employs some 74,000 workers, earns over US$650 million in foreign exchange each year, and contributes billions in tax revenues.
The delegation also presented the Minister with a copy of its tax proposals which it claimed was based on “fairness protection of the poor and the generation of revenue’.