JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, is calling on Jamaicans to reduce the demand for imported goods and foreign exchange, finding ways instead, to use less and earn more.
Speaking at the first in a series of town hall meetings organised by the Government on Tuesday (May 19) in Mandeville, Manchester, the Minister said he was tired of signing waivers for the importation of things that could easily be produced in Jamaica like scallion, tomato puree, crushed peppers, onion, and pineapple pulp.
“We’re not earning our way as a people. We’re not earning foreign exchange but we’re consuming foreign exchange in unprecedented proportions. We have got to use the opportunity of this crisis where we are consuming and borrowing foreign exchange and find the opportunity to transform and change the process toward how we begin to earn foreign exchange,” he told the capacity audience of the Golf View Hotel.
According to the Finance Minister, the Government’s policies were geared towards encouraging those “who dare to take the risk and to invest, to enjoy the benefits of wealth creation.”
He pointed out that for too long, Jamaica has been dependent on too narrow a band of industries to survive and the country was losing its productive capacity.
Calling on Jamaicans “to begin an introspective sojourn in identifying and developing new opportunities” to earn foreign exchange, Mr. Shaw pointed to prospects in the processed food industry.
“I have been talking to the Prime Minister (Bruce Golding) and the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce (Karl Samuda). We have got to look at the processed food industry. It is an industry that is waiting to multiply that has the capacity for growth that is immeasurable,” he stated.
He contended that with help in re-tooling processing plants, Jamaica could, in a very short time, export at least 10 times more than current figures. “We can start by just exporting four times more, which would move us from US$250 million per year to US$1billion,” he said.
“We have a Jamaican Diaspora, which is hungry for ethnic food. The Diaspora is as big as the population of Jamaica and we have the wider Caribbean Diaspora, millions of people, and they can’t get enough of what we are producing,” he added.
The island wide town hall meetings, which will be addressed by the Prime Minister, are to explain the implications of the 2009/10 budget to the Jamaican public.