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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, says that the current challenges facing the Jamaican economy, provide an excellent opportunity to embark on the most massive programme of social and economic transformation the country has ever experienced.
“This programme, although dictated by painful circumstances, has been long overdue. We need to focus our attention and sharpen our vision on the process of development,” he said.
Mr. Shaw was addressing the official opening of the Fourth Regional Conference on Investments and Capital Markets, at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club, in Montego Bay, St. James, yesterday (January 28). The conference is staged by the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
“When we position our country on a development path, growth becomes a natural consequence; new jobs will materialize; investments, both local and foreign direct investments, will flow; depravity and crime will decrease; and we will be able to earn our way out of the persistent, pernicious debt trap,” he stated.
“To this task we must all be committed. With confidence in ourselves and in the future of our country, we must squarely face the challenges and resolutely move forward,” he urged.
Mr. Shaw said that the challenges call for a genuine partnership of public and private sector interests and that, while the government is committed to transformational leadership, “We must now give momentum to the implementation of measures to effect that change, and share that vision with Jamaicans of all walks of life”.
He said policies must be characterized by sound and efficient fiscal management and debt containment, reform of the public sector bureaucracy, free from corruption and corrupting tendencies, and focused on the efficient and timely service delivery and reform of tax administration, both domestic and international, to widen the tax net, as well as to ensure transparency, equity, fairness, and compliance without impeding enterprise and the legitimate conduct of business.
“We must, in a more concerted manner, invest in the development of our human resources. In partnership with organized labour and the private sector, we must set targets for the training of our workforce, while ensuring that all school-leavers and job-seeking individuals desirous of a skill, can acquire that skill and have a certificate to prove it,” he said.
Mr. Shaw emphasized that investments must be promoted at home and abroad, across a wide range of sectors for which Jamaica has competitive advantage.
“We want to emphasize the use of the stock market to encourage companies to move from debt financing to equity financing,” he explained.
He also suggested an energy policy that promotes conservation, emphasizes the use of renewable resources, and attracts the application of appropriate and cutting edge technology to increase efficiency and reduce cost.