Jamaica must Capitalise on Foreign Direct Investment – Dr. Hughes


Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wesley Hughes, has said that if Jamaica failed to capitalise on inflows of foreign direct investments, which would be pumped into the island over the next few years, then the country might enter into an economic slump as soon as those investments have ceased.
Dr. Hughes, who was speaking at a recent community forum in Montego Bay on the topic: ‘Major Investments, Massive Business Opportunities: Connecting the Dots,’ said to sustain economic gains, money coming into the island should be used to develop local entrepreneurship, including small businesses.
He drew reference to the economic boom of the 50s and 60s, followed by the slump in the 70s and 80s and expressed the view that Jamaica might once again experience similar problems, if foreign inflows, were not properly managed.
“It has taken us almost 30 years to get back in a cycle of growth, and why did this happen? We are of the view that the massive growth (of the 50’s and 60s) was generated by foreign capital, but it was not sustained by domestic investment in entrepreneurship, and in the micro and small enterprises, it was not sufficient. So once the foreign capital investment ended, we had an abrupt halt or end to that cycle of growth”, he opined.
He insisted that the development of micro and small business enterprises were essential for the sustenance of the economy. “We are of the view that if no attention is paid to the development of domestic entrepreneurship at the micro and small business levels, and Jamaican business in general, then you are going to have a situation where you have significant growth, then you come to a sudden halt once more, and we repeat the failure of the previous era”, Dr. Hughes stated further.
He emphasised that the mistakes of history could be avoided by learning from them, adding that it was critical and “very vital” that the notion of entrepreneurship and the general development of business within the economy, became a national endeavour. “We will not have a sustainable economy if we solely depend on foreign direct investment for our development,” he stated.
Held under the theme, ‘Entrepreneurship: A path to National Development’, the Montego Bay forum comes against the background of impending trade rules changes with the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and other international trade agreements, that will further open up Jamaica’s economy to additional investors.
The forum is part of a dialogue for development series being held across the island by the PIOJ. The objective is to disseminate information and gather feedback, while assisting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to understand how new foreign direct investment can impact their long-term sustainability.

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