JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Reform of the labour market is essential if the country is to retain its qualified workers, who will play a key role in the nation’s economic development.
  • Key to the reform process, is creating an environment where more and more persons can be put to work
  • The Minister pointed out that much has been achieved and much is being done to address this issue.

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says reform of the labour market is essential if the country is to retain its qualified workers, who will play a key role in the nation’s economic development.

“If we want to reverse the brain drain, if we want to improve our own conditions of life here in Jamaica that will retain our sons and daughters for national development, then we need to embark upon this labour reform process,” he emphasised.

He was addressing the staging of a Labour Market Forum at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston on December 10.

The Minister contended that labour reform involves more than simply boosting productivity at the level of the firm, but is crucial “if we are to create an environment which can sustain social stability and social inclusion.”

“Essentially, we won’t be able to sustain social stability, if we keep a situation in place where 50 per cent and more of each successive cohort of school leavers have no place in a structured work environment,” he said.

Dr. Phillips argued that key to the reform process, is creating an environment where more and more persons can be put to work, noting that “we cannot sustain for very long, a society where too many people live outside the ambit of modern work experience.”

“A major challenge to policy makers is the requirement to bring more and more people into the labour force, in an environment where there is high unemployment, and significant underemployment,” he said.

The Minister pointed out that much has been achieved and much is being done to address this issue, with a raft of legislation being completed by Parliament and the Senate, “around a new fiscal incentive regime to provide incentives to businesses which invest, and to create a more propitious environment for investment activity.”

“Among the elements in the legislation is the Employment Tax Credit, which provides incentive to employers to utilise labour, by providing tax credits, available on the basis of your statutorily prescribed expenditures to support the labour force,” he said.

The Minister further noted that beyond the issue of the tax reform initiatives, the Government also recently instituted several measures to create a better working environment for its citizens.

These involved amendments to important labour laws, including the Employment Agencies Regulation Act, and the attendant regulations; the Foreign Nationals and Citizen Employment Act; the Holidays With Pay Act; the Minimum Wage Act; and amendment to the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act.

Staged by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) over two days (December  9 to 10), under the theme: ‘Reshaping the Jamaican Labour Market to Foster Economic Growth and Development’, the forum was intended to provide a platform to discuss ways of developing a comprehensive labour market reform agenda.

Representatives from the private and public sectors participated in the event, including Government Ministers, Chief Executive Officers, Chief Technical Directors, Permanent Secretaries, Presidents and Principals of secondary and tertiary institutions.

The forum was put on in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).