JIS News

Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Karl Samuda, has cited an urgent need for what he describes as an “integrated approach”, to attracting the quality of investments to Jamaica, that will yield significant and substantial benefits to the country.
Speaking at the global launch in Jamaica, of the World Investment Report for 2008, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (September 24), Mr. Samuda noted that while significant levels of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) have been forthcoming, he lamented that “Jamaica still struggles with inappropriate and deficient levels of economic growth.””We have had, undoubtedly, great achievements in attracting investments. But they have not been translated into either economic growth or, for that matter, into the levels of employment that we need,” he said.
Arguing that a peaceful and harmonious socio-economic environment was one of the key pillars, essential to building of any kind of “meaningful infrastructure” in the country, the Minister stressed that this would be impossible in the face of unemployment.
“If there is no employment, there can be no peace. If there is no employment, it is inducive to the increase in crime and violence, which is a disincentive to new investment. Therefore, essential in everything, in terms of attracting investment, must be the consideration for the creation of jobs. And, in this regard, the kind of investments that we attract, must be those that see the development of hard infrastructure. The shift from total emphasis on services and tourism, through the construction of new hotels, on one that focusses more on creating the opportunities for production locally, that will serve this very vital industry.. tourism,” he stated.
In the same vein, the Minister cited the need for the transformation of the attitude of the local workforce, to ensure their awareness of the critical role they must play in ensuring that Jamaica becomes an attractive destination for investors.
Mr. Samuda noted that on countless occasions, the “tremendous gap”, which exists between the requirements of the tourism sector, and the stakeholders’ ability to provide same, has been highlighted. Against this background, he pointed out, there were boundless opportunities for increased productive enterprise, and investment in the type of activities that would “close that gap”, for persons with the necessary commitment and determination. This, he added, would enable the country to retain the foreign exchange earned through that sector.
“It’s no point [in our] having a very impressive sales figure, in terms of what the inflows are like, through tourism, but equally, we have a massive outflow, because all the purchases and all the services that are required for that industry, have to be acquired from overseas. So there is an opportunity that we really need to address,” Mr. Samuda stated, adding that Jamaica must now convince the rest of the world that it stands ready to participate in the global economy.
The World Investment Report, which was launched in association with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), outlines the annual flow of FDIs in regions globally.