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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to creating the framework and environment suitable for the growth of small businesses in the country.

Speaking at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC) 6th annual Small Business exposition at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on May 21, Minister Hylton said this is critical, as they play an important role in value growth and job creation.

He said the Government is aware of the role of Micro, Small and MediumSized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country’s growth agenda, and is dedicated to fulfilling specific objectives that will support the entire life-cycle of these entities-from idea to market.

To this end, he informed that legislation is being re-examined, while policies and programmes are being created to ensure that the sector can be strengthened.

The Minister explained that the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Policy, which is now before Parliament, is intended to facilitate the growth of the sector and strengthen the role of entrepreneurs.

“The policy establishes a framework for addressing impediments to the development of MSMEs. We are acutely aware of these issues – the time it takes to do business, obtain approvals, pay taxes, access to capital, and lack of adequate collateral. All of these impediments must be addressed in a comprehensive and urgent manner and I want to assure you that this Government is firmly committed to eliminating red tape,” he said.

Mr. Hylton said critical to the creation of a more favourable business environment for MSMEs is the reform of the legislative framework, particularly as it relates to business and entrepreneurship.

“We are now advancing several critical pieces of legislation, namely, the Insolvency Act and the Secured Transactions Act, amendments to the Trade Mark and Copyright Acts, which are intended to create a climate for enterprise and growth,” he added.

He said modernising the Insolvency Legislation will encourage more businesses to restart after failure and ensure that those whose failure was honest are not stigmatised. “In today’s modern global business environment, our legislative framework has become outmoded and out of step with modern realities,” he added.

Mr. Hylton noted that the Government is also modernising the framework for Intellectual Property through the implementation of amendments to the Trade Marks Act.

“The first of a series of amendments, which will eventually lead to accession to the Madrid Protocol, is now before Parliament. This protocol allows for single and centralized filing of trademark and service marks in a way that will provide for protection globally. Modernising the patent legislation will foster an environment that will allow for investments to flow into the high tech industries in Jamaica, and to allow access to the Patent Co-operation Treaty,” he said.

Mr. Hylton pointed out that as part of the improvement of the business environment in Jamaica, the ‘Super Form’ will be introduced during this fiscal year.

“This will be implemented by the Companies Office of Jamaica, and is a major step towards eliminating the red tape that stymies business in the country,” he said.

Additionally, he said the Government has embarked on an initiative to restructure the financing environment for the MSME sector, with the aim of strengthening the institutional arrangements in the MSME financial sector through the introduction of mobile money.

“Mobile money is an innovation that will prove transformative to the microfinance industry. It represents a digital platform that will serve the needs of the un-banked population that is currently excluded from financial services,” he said.

He commended the team from the JBDC for staging the conference, which seeks to provide opportunities that will enable entrepreneurs and MSMEs to build capacity in order to prepare themselves for the globalizing marketplace

The exposition was held under the theme: ‘Taking Business to the next Level: From Self Employment to Entrepreneurship’, and featured displays from over 30 exhibitors, while approximately 20 local and international presenters were featured.

Contact: Chris Patterson