Bank on agri, tourism to spur growth

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS - McPherse Thomp­son As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor-Busi­ness

WITH THE Ja­maican econ­omy peren­ni­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing anaemic growth, Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Sagi­cor Group Ja­maica Richard Byles is un­wa­ver­ing in his sug­ges­tion that agri­cul­ture and tourism are among the top two sec­tors that can pro­vide real op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic ex­pan­sion.

He pro­duced data which show that cur­rently, trad­ing con­trib­utes the most to the Ja­maican econ­omy, at 17 per cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP).

At the same time, man­u­fac­tur­ing, the fifth-largest sec­tor, con­trib­utes un­der 10 per cent of GDP; tourism, the sixth largest, adds just six per cent; and agri­cul­ture, the sev­enth-largest, con­trib­utes un­der 7 per cent of GDP.

Byles, ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence in New Kingston re­cently, asked to what ex­tent the Govern­ment was look­ing to those ar­eas to stim­u­late eco­nomic growth and said: “I think it must be a log­i­cal con­clu­sion from the Eco­nomic Growth Coun­cil that th­ese sec­tors of the econ­omy have real op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­pan­sion.”

How­ever, “the who is go­ing to do it? The how? What is needed to stim­u­late it? Those are all more in­tri­cate ques­tions that need to be an­swered by the EGC”.

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness ear­lier this year ap­pointed the coun­cil to con­sult widely and to ad­vise Cab­i­net on a col­lec­tion of broad plat­form poli­cies and re­forms to fa­cil­i­tate eco­nomic growth.

Ac­cord­ing to Byles, “to get some other sec­tor to grow, to grow the econ­omy, you have to re­ally steam it up. And agri­cul­ture, which is just short of 7 per cent (of GDP), is an op­por­tu­nity: it em­ploys peo­ple, it pro­duces goods that save us for­eign ex­change or may even earn us for­eign ex­change.”

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