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Prime Minister P.J Patterson has said the economy is in an expansion mode, with a plethora of opportunities for local and foreign investors.
The Prime Minister, who was addressing a Business Development Forum at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston yesterday (Feb. 23), noted that the economy was experiencing record levels of investment flows and a robust business environment.
“The boom has been made possible by efforts to promote investment according to a clear strategy of targeting industries and activities such as tourism and mining and other areas in which we had a competitive advantage,” Mr. Patterson stated.
He cited Jamaica’s 17th place ranking as a prime destination for foreign direct investment and 12th place ranking in terms of technology transfer by the World Investment Report; its US$3.5 billion portfolio of projects covering several sectors; as well as its 10th place rating as a designation for ease of doing business by a World Bank report, as indicators of the progress being made.
According to the Prime Minister, these gains were not accidental, but were as a result of the clear, coherent and consistent policy framework laid out in the 1996 National Industrial Policy, which was now entering its third phase.
Some five strategic industry clusters, covering the major sectors, were identified under the policy, to lead the thrust to put Jamaica on a path of high investment and rapid economic development.These are manufacturing, tourism, infrastructure, bauxite and mining and information and communication technology.
The Prime Minister noted that despite several challenges, including the setback from the financial sector fallout, the country was now at a favourable point evidenced by a functioning, efficient and liberalized foreign exchange market; large foreign reserves; stability in prices due to prudent monetary policies; efforts to balance the budget through fiscal restraint; among other measures.
These factors, he said, have given rise to increased levels of confidence by the financial markets. “This is reflected in lower interest rates in Jamaica and better terms for recent bond issues by the government,” the Prime Minister told the forum.
He informed, that the divestment of state assets had also spurred private investments in infrastructure such as water, airports and highways, as well as telecommunications.
In noting the potential of the tourism industry, the Prime Minister urged local producers to capitalize on the benefits, which would accompany the staging of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
The forum, which was held under the theme: ‘Today’s Investment, Tomorrows Opportunities’, was geared towards instilling confidence in the business community and the public, about the country’s economic prospects.
It also served to sensitize targeted audiences as to the direct benefits arising from investment initiatives such as increased employment, improved market access, linkages and supply chain opportunities.