Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has assured micro, small and medium size enterprise (MSME) stakeholders of the Government’s commitment to source funding to finance the sector.
Speaking at the MSME Alliance’s budget debate, on the “Implications of the IMF Agreement for MSMEs”, at the Stella Maris Conference Centre, Shortwood Road, Kingston on Friday (April 16), Mr. Shaw said the administration was “sympathetic” to the challenges currently faced by MSME stakeholders.
He particularly highlighted the “shortage of money” in the economy, and the need for partnerships in overcoming this and other obstacles.
“I believe that working together, we can achieve it,” Mr. Shaw told the audience.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, addressing the Micro, Small and Medium Size Enterprise (MSME) Alliance post-Budget debate on the theme, ‘Implications of the IMF Agreement for MSMEs’, at the Stella Maris Conference Centre, Shortwood Road, Kingston, on Friday (April 16).
He said that, as Minister of Finance, he will work more closely with Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton and Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, which represent the productive cluster within government ministries.
“And we are going to find a way, in the midst of all of this difficulty,. in partnership with the public sector institutions.to carve out new sources of funding,” he assured.
The Minister was, however, quick to point out that there were several existing and emerging opportunities, which sector interests could exploit to better position themselves and advance their operations.
“Mr. Bartlett tells us about the growth of the tourism industry.it is growing. What is not growing adequately is the linkage industries that support our tourism sector. We need more fresh foods. more processed foods. more furniture in the sector.more attractions to support a vibrant and growing tourism industry. there are a lot of things we need more of. Despite the problems that you are facing, I’m urging you, don’t lose heart, don’t lose faith,” he said.
Prior to Mr. Shaw’s presentation, MSME Alliance President, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, who also spoke at the forum, cited challenges faced by the stakeholders, and urged that the administration give consideration to establishing an MSME Economic Safety Net, financed by allocations from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
“We are not calling for a government handout, but rather for a programme designed to help MSMEs to help themselves,” Dr. Hamilton said.
She invited Mr. Shaw to work with the MSME Alliance and community organisations throughout Jamaica to convert some of the CDF spending annually, into an MSME Economic Safety Net.
In response, Mr. Shaw, described the suggestion as “an interesting concept” and promised a “more fulsome response” at an appropriate time. He, however, suggested that there was much more for them to do, and told them to explore all available options.
He urged them to look at quality Jamaican projects, through the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and various other programmes offered through agencies like the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) which loaned out $150 million, and is about to be replenished with additional funding from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).
Mr. Shaw also asked the stakeholders to take advantage of provisions such as the availability of industrial space from the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ); research, development and technical assistance offered by the Scientific Research Council; and the promotion of innovation and protection of intellectual property rights through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).
He asked them to play their part, do their due diligence and have good business plans.
“Don’t just have a good idea; put it down on paper, pencil it out, stress test it..it’s a disciplined process., (and) no matter how small the business, you must adapt yourself in that way,” he said.
The 35-member MSME Alliance was established to build meaningful partnerships and create strategic alliances and effective networking between business associations and their members. Friday’s forum was organised to facilitate a better understanding of the budgetary provisions by MSME interests and how these will impact the sector.