JIS News

Key private sector organizations and support institutions have pledged their commitment to the 28.7 million euro Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) scheduled to begin in 2005. The PSDP is a technical assistance programme jointly funded by the European Union (EU) and the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and is geared at strengthening the competitiveness of the private sector.
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) and the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) – the implementing agency, will all sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday, December 10, signaling their commitment to implementing and supporting the programme over the next four years. The European Commission and the National Authorising Organisation, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) will also endorse the MOU.
The programme, aims to enhance the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises specifically, and to strengthen their support and representative organizations. To this end, the EU has committed 20 million euro in grant funds, which, along with the contribution of approximately 8.7M euro from the GoJ and beneficiaries, represent the total Programme allocation.
Private sector organisations and support institutions (PSOs), which are defined as any private or public sector entity that provides critical services to private sector firms, or is a body that represents these firms, is therefore seen as critical to the programme’s success. It is anticipated that the strengthening of these institutions will result in the delivery of improved business development services to their members and/or client base.
Private sector development was identified in the GoJ/EU Country Strategy Paper (CSP) as a primary area of co-operation for the period 2001 to 2007. A feasibility study conducted in 2002 formed the basis for the programme, and provided an assessment of the best strategy to achieve this end. Following an evaluation of existing PSOs, the study recommended that JAMPRO, the PSOJ and the JBDC be given primary responsibility for instituting the Programme on the basis of their established roles of supporting the private sector. Additionally, the JEA, JMA and SBAJ, which are also members of the Programme’s Steering Committee, have been designated as key partners due to the wide scope of their membership as well as their involvement in numerous complementary initiatives that contribute to private sector growth. These institutions will be responsible for implementing select activities and providing specific services to their clients as well as the wider private sector.
During its implementation, the Programme will seek to realize three main results: (1) empowerment of private sector organizations, (2) enhanced enterprise competitiveness through the provision of appropriate business development services, and (3) increased access to corporate finance for SMEs. The activities to be supported through the Programme include:
Establishing a Competitiveness Committee, chaired by the Minister of Development, Hon. Paul Robertson which seeks to increase awareness on issues related to national competitiveness, and correct impediments through the development of appropriate policy proposals; and Instituting a cost-shared capacity-building scheme for PSOs to foster institutional strengthening and enable them to better serve their membership.
Implementing a cost-shared business development services (BDS) scheme for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with a view to improving efficiencies and adoption of benchmarked standards; and Providing direct support to enterprises through organizing market penetration initiatives, establishing island-wide Export Centres, implementing cluster and sector initiatives, providing consortia-based BDS, creating business information points and instituting an enterprise rating and upgrading system for firms in the agribusiness and apparel industries.
Establishing, on the basis of a detailed feasibility study, mutual guarantee companies to facilitate SME access to financing; andOffering corporate finance brokerage services for SMEs requiring hand-holding assistance with financial management issues, or seeking to identify alternate funding options.
In February 2005, a symposium will be held to target potential PSOs and provide information on how they will be able to benefit under the Programme.
Beneficiaries will have to meet specific eligibility criteria in order to qualify for assistance, and these will include the provision of a current and detailed business plan and proof of commitment of funds for cost-shared activities.

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