Jamaicans Abroad Urged to Assist Country’s Economic Agenda


Minister of Finance and Planning, Audley Shaw, has encouraged Jamaicans in Washington to deepen their engagement with Jamaica and to meaningfully assist the island’s economic reform and growth agenda.
The Minister’s appeal came during an address to a capacity audience at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington on Friday (Oct. 19), where he stressed the importance of the Jamaican Diaspora in aiding Jamaica’s economic development and providing critical skills essential to the country’s progress.
At the meeting, the Minister provided a briefing on developments within key productive sectors, such as the tourism industry, and reiterated the government’s commitment to aid in the expansion of the country’s industrial base while simultaneously increasing employment.
Mr. Shaw emphasized that the government would place significant priority and emphasis on fostering growth in the economy. “Without growth, Jamaica simply will not be able to create wealth and to ensure the prosperity of our citizens,” he said. “Without growth, we will be unable to provide a good education system for our youth, to invest in health care, and to assist important players in our economy, including small farmers, for example, to increase their productivity. This is our number one priority,” he stated.
The Finance Minister identified debt management, a revised energy policy, reform of the bureaucracy, tax reform and investment promotion, as five critical areas where the government would place new emphasis in order to ensure the financial stability of the country and increase its efficiency and competitiveness.
He noted that small farmers, and the agricultural sector as a whole, must become greater beneficiaries of the continuing expansion in the tourism sector and should be given the opportunity to expand their supply capabilities, particularly with respect to providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the local hotel industry.
Stating that urban renewal was an “important goal” of the government, Mr. Shaw indicated that key focus would be placed on transforming inner-city areas in Kingston and the waterfront, into productive zones through investment in a range of industries. In addition to encouraging the expansion of business and commercial activity, the Minister indicated that efforts would be made to improve the housing stock within those communities and provide improved services to its residents.
Minister of State in the Ministry, Senator Don Wehby, in his remarks, emphasized that forging a new partnership for national development between the government and Jamaicans both at home and abroad, was central in ensuring social and economic progress. Stating that there was “no quick fix to the current challenges facing Jamaica,” Senator Wehby mentioned that the Jamaican government would have to find innovative approaches to strengthening the economy, which would involve the Jamaican Diaspora.
He indicated that there would be a renewed interest in looking at approaches that will allow for greater levels of new investment by the Diaspora in the Jamaican economy, which could include instrument, such as Diaspora bonds.
He also identified crime as a “major deterrent to investment in Jamaica” and stressed the need to urgently tackle this scourge through effective law enforcement, as well as through a renewed campaign of education and skills training.
The forum at the Embassy was part of two days extensive discussions between the Minister and members of the international financial community, as well as private investment interests in the United States.
In addition to members of the Jamaican community, the function was attended by officials representing the international financial community in Washington, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), lobby organizations, as well as local opinion leaders with an interest in Caribbean economic affairs.
Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Derrick Latibeaudiere; Director of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Wesley Hughes; and Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Colin Bullock, also accompanied the Minister.

JIS Social