JIS News

Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Karl Samuda, is urging the country’s investment promotion agency, Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), to place more emphasis and focus on the promotion of investments in sectors outside of tourism.
This comes against the background of what he said are a significantly high percentage of investments being channeled into tourism, compared to other sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices, today (July 8), Mr. Samuda said that total capital investments up to the end of April 2007, amounted to $23 billion, of which nearly half was in the tourism sector. He also said that of this sum, manufacturing accounted for only $4 billion, while only $10 million of that sum has gone into agricultural development, describing this as “disappointing.”
“We can’t be dependent on one particular type of investment. Whilst it (tourism) is the most critical sector.in terms of being able to create the jobs and wealth in the country, and (is also) the basis on which we can strengthen the linkages coming through manufacturing and agriculture and all the inputs necessary to drive that sector, it will be all to nought unless we create a business environment that will give the local productive sector the capacity to service the tourism sector,” Mr. Samuda emphasized.
The Minister pointed out that failure by the country to keep pace with capacity development in areas such as manufacturing and agriculture is resulting in inconsistent support to the tourism sector, and warned that this could result in some stakeholders seeking the necessary inputs to drive the industry outside of Jamaica and the region.
“What we are finding is that hotels, because of the inconsistency (in supplies) and in some instances, the lack of consistent quality (and) insufficient volume, that they are forced to go external, extra-regional, in order to satisfy the demand of the tourism sector,” he informed.
Mr. Samuda reported that at the recently concluded CARICOM Summit in Antigua, regional leaders reached a consensus on the need for more pro-activity in providing the goods and services that will sustain the tourism sector.
“We have to expand our agricultural base, and in that regard, Jamaica has a great opportunity to be the bread basket of the entire Caribbean region in terms of servicing the tourism sector. We have arable land, we have adequate water, we have trained people who have been engaged in agricultural development for many years, but it has lagged behind,” the Minister outlined.
To this end, he said, the Government is committed to driving the agricultural industry through the promotion of investments in that sector.
“I have spoken to the President, the Chairman of the Board, and Board members, to make sure that they focus on the promotion, not only of the hospitality industry (and the) entertainment industry, which are very important, but also on the manufacturing and agricultural sectors,” Mr. Samuda said.

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