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    Over $32 billion in capital investments were facilitated by the Government’s investment promotion arm, Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), during the 2008/09 fiscal year, Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, told Parliament today (Wednesday, April 29).
    Making his presentation in the 2009/10 Budget Debate at Gordon House, Mr. Samuda pointed out that while final numbers were still being collated, up to February, the figure had already surpassed the target set for the period by approximately $6 billion, and was more than $11.1 billion over the previous year’s target.
    The Minister said that the sum was generated from the addition of 26 new projects to the JTI’s portfolio. These comprised: 16 in Information and Communications Technology (ICT); three each in mining, tourism, and manufacturing; and one in major retail services.
    He said that, combined, these new projects amounted to US$37 million in capital investments in the economy.
    “When one looks at the overall picture, the lead sectors for investments in Jamaica are Tourism and ICT, which together generated $24.6 billion in capital expenditures. We are also experiencing stronger investment performance from the agricultural sector, which generated more than $4 billion in capital expenditures last year,” Mr. Samuda outlined.
    Major tourism investments during the year, he said, included the continued expansion of the Iberostar Project; the launch of the Seawind Keys/Secrets Resorts and Spa; and the expansion of attractions such as Mystic Mountain.
    “These and other investments in tourism have added 2,351 rooms to the current room stock,” he informed.
    The ICT sector, Mr. Samuda continued, was another big performer, generating over $10 billion in investments last year. These investments flowed primarily in the telecommunications sub-sector, and from the build-out of seats in the ICT/Business Outsourcing sub-sector.
    Despite this impressive figure, Mr. Samuda contended that the sector is capable of doing much better. He, however, lamented the challenges, chief among which is the unavailability of office space which, he said, is being addressed.
    “Jamaica Trade and Invest has been collaborating with the Office of the Prime Minister to address this issue. A project is now underway to create approximately 600,000 square feet of suitably outfitted office space in the next five years, under public-private partnership agreements,” Mr. Samuda told the House.
    He explained that under this agreement, the local business community will be invited to partner with the Government to invest in the development and build-out of the office space. The JTI, he added, will undertake a significant portion of the legwork necessary to woo investors.
    In the area of manufactured investment projects, the Minister said that the number facilitated by JTI, increased from six to 13 last year, while recording capital expenditure totalling some $5.7 billion, or 53.4 per cent more than the previous year. A US$16M dehydrating facility, owned and operated by the Jamaica Broilers Group, was the highest value investment undertaken.
    In the face of the current global financial crisis, Mr. Samuda assured the country that the Government was not retreating.
    “We are not retreating. We are looking for opportunities to seize the moment. In so doing, we intend to be nimble and lean in making the best bang from every promotional dollar spent in the overseas marketplace,” he said.
    Mr. Samuda also disclosed that JTI facilitated over $2.7 billion in non-traditional exports last year. These were mainly generated in the processed foods sub-sector, which accounted for 70 per cent of earnings; furniture – 16 per cent; and baked products – nine per cent.
    He said that exporters in these sectors were facilitated on trade missions to North America and Europe by JTI, which introduced them to new markets through a variety of trade shows and in-store promotions, among other activities.

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