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Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Karl Samuda, has urged manufacturers to place greater focus on producing goods for export to earn much needed foreign exchange for Jamaica.
He said that while engaging in manufacturing for local consumption is good, it is not good enough to have products that are not geared to export and which can earn foreign exchange.
“Jamaica has a very simple problem, we don’t have enough foreign exchange, we don’t earn enough foreign exchange: It’s all about (foreign) exchange,” the Minister declared.
He was addressing the launch of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association’s (JMA) Hidden Cost Report, at the association’s Duke Street office, downtown Kingston, on Wednesday (March 25).
Mr. Samuda said measures implemented by the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ), are geared towards containing the dollar and inflation, because the country could not afford the things it consumes.
Measures implemented in terms of the exchange rate and the cash reserves held in the BoJ on behalf of commercial banks, were necessary because the country did not have enough foreign exchange, he explained. He also added that utilisation of cash reserves to support the manufacturing sector, would result in inflation, which further increases demand for foreign exchange.
Regarding the manufacturing sector, Mr. Samuda pointed out that ensuring that resources are provided to stakeholders was essential. However, he lamented that for too long sector interests have, to a great extent, focussed solely on securing resources to produce, and questioned the logic in this regard.
He suggested that stakeholders activities must be geared towards an export thrust, and everything must revolve around that necessity.
The Minister urged stakeholders in the manufacturing sector to protect their interests against persons intent on abusing the provisions afforded them, to fulfill ulterior motives.
“The sector also has to safeguard itself against operators who use the facilities given to them, in terms of reduced duties on raw materials, to engage in the sale of those raw materials and allow them to go into the private sector as retail items,” Mr. Samuda warned.
He suggested that the JMA expel from its ranks members found guilty of this practice.
The JMA’s Hidden Costs Study seeks to broaden discussion on the obstacles hindering competitiveness in the local productive sector, as well as define and map out competitiveness problems and global environmental factors.
The study was undertaken with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

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