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Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, has emphasised the value and importance of small businesses to the development of the country’s economy.

The State Minister explained that the sector creates many jobs, provides a vehicle for reducing income disparities, provides forward and backward linkages between economically, socially and geographically diverse sectors of the economy, and offers an excellent breeding ground for entrepreneurial and managerial talent.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams was delivering the keynote address at a luncheon of the Board of the Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited, held at The Ruins, in Ocho Rios, on Monday, November 26.

The State Minister  said the country is progressing towards a small business procurement policy that will not only be favourable to existing businesses, but will also provide the opportunity for new firms to participate in the government procurement process, once certain criteria are met.

She also cited  a move towards exporting more locally made products,  and mentioned  the Government’s ‘ExportPlus’ initiative, which is geared towards providing the necessary technical assistance to achieving this goal.  She said that over 200 small and medium-sized local enterprises are expected to benefit from improved competitiveness and greater access to international markets through this initiative.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams added that in its continued quest to put in place the necessary policy and infrastructural support for the establishment of new businesses and the survival of existing ones, the Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, has established a ‘Bureaucracy Hotline’. The number is: 1-888-733-8273 (1-888-REDTAPE).

“This is to assist in procuring and streamlining data on the bureaucratic challenges impacting investors in Jamaica, and to establish a more conducive environment for business within the island,” she said.

“We have also been spearheading several pieces of legislation, geared towards improving our business environment,  including  the Secured Transaction Act; the Probate, Patent and Insolvency Laws; and amendments to the Copyright, Trademark and Companies Act,” the State Minister added.