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JIS News

President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), Omar Azan, has welcomed the Government’s assistance to the manufacturing sector, noting that “businesses and the productive sector will definitely be able to gain” from the initiatives announced.
Mr. Azan, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, said that the measures “will be essential in the short-term in providing immediate cash flow for payroll…and leveling the playing field with our regional competitors.”
Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, in an address to the nation on December 14, announced a stimulus package for the major sectors, in light of the current global financial crisis. The support to the manufacturing sector will include the removal of customs user fees payable on capital goods and raw materials.
In addition, the time allowed for depreciating the cost of capital equipment will be reduced from two years to one year, and Government procurement policy will be adjusted to provide a 10 per cent margin of preference to Jamaican-owned companies. All of these measures become effective on January 1.
According to Mr. Azan, the removal of the two per cent Customs User Fee “will go a far way in helping our producers, because what you have to do is basically pay two per cent on every imported raw material that you bring in before it can even get to your factories for production, so releasing that cash flow would make a big difference to the companies that are importing.”
In terms of the adjustment of the Government procurement policy to favour Jamaican-owned companies, Mr. Azan said that this will encourage “buying Jamaican and building Jamaica.” He added that the implementation of this policy “will also ensure that the contracts for the printing of our primary school textbooks are granted to Jamaican printeries.”
In the meantime, he said that the manufacturing sector is looking forward to a US$300-million credit facility that the Government will be signing in January with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The facility will provide loans to the productive sector, which will be made available through commercial banks and the EX-IM Bank. “We are looking forward to that particular funding that is coming towards the sector at a time when most countries credit is drying up on the world sphere,” he stated.
Dr. Azan said that even with the assistance, the country has to produce its way out of its problems. “(We need to) feed ourselves, grow our own food, try and save foreign exchange, and try and export products that we are being produced in Jamaica. We need to earn foreign exchange for our country to pay our oil bill, all our funding bills, our loan payments, and the only way we are going to do that, is by producing our way out of our problem,” he stated.
“We can’t depend on one particular sector. We need to have a level playing field for all sectors…because it’s not one sector that’s going to drive this economy, it’s going to be all sectors…that’s going to grow this country,” he added.