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The equities (stock) market will be supported as a critical element in the Government's drive to stimulate investments and promote the private sector as the engine of economic growth and development.

This was stated by Minister of Finance, Planning and the Public Service, Hon. Dr Peter Phillips, as he addressed the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 7th Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference 2012 on January 25 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

He said a major priority of the new administration is to facilitate businesses and enhance private sector-led growth, and the stock market is an important element in that process.

“For one thing, it provides an opportunity for broadening the ownership stake in the local economy and it is certainly our intention to use to the fullest degree possible, the offerings on the stock exchange, in our divestment of state-owned properties…,” he declared.

The Minister, while giving high marks to the spectacular performance of the Junior Stock Market, which was established just over two years ago, had a word of caution for those wish to use that facility as a means of avoiding taxation.

“We are supportive of the Junior Stock Exchange, even as we are concerned that it should not be a conduit whereby companies that properly belong on the (main) Stock Exchange, utilise it as a means of shifting the burden of taxation,” he stated.

Dr. Phillips emphasised that the Government is committed to the development of the Junior Exchange “as a vehicle for stimulating the start-up of enterprises that would not have, otherwise, got off the ground."

“We are also committed to creating appropriate venture capital operations and funds that would facilitate the start-up of new businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises,” he said.

Economic growth, the Minister noted, will depend on the ability of those with “first rate bankable ideas being able to access the capital necessary to get these businesses operating such that we can, not only broaden the base of ownership, but stimulate the rate of growth in the shortest possible time."

Turning to the lingering economic challenges facing the United States economy and the “increasingly unpredictable” state of affairs in the Euro-zone economies, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank predicting lower rates of growth for the world economy, the Minister said “this should not cause us to be daunted."

He argued that the solution to the challenges will require the renewed commitment of all sectors to work together.

"Jamaica can only survive and we will not only survive but prosper…but it will require co-operation. This is not a time for everyone to hold their corner and believe that simply by standing aside, they can preserve their own interest. It will require ‘give and take’ as we approach the difficult issues of tax reform and other reforms that have to be undertaken…but survive we must and prosper we must,” the Minister declared.

 

By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter