De­vel­op­ing emerg­ing sec­tors for eco­nomic growth

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS - Don We­hby Don We­hby is chair­man, JAMPRO and Group CEO, GraceKennedy.

NOW MORE than ever, Ja­maica needs to rapidly di­ver­sify the econ­omy and in­dus­tries to en­sure that the coun­try can have growth. There are sub­stan­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand into new spheres by build­ing emerg­ing sec­tors for more in­vest­ment and trade prospects for Ja­maica.

Many Ja­maican busi­nesses ex­pe­ri­ence some level of eco­nomic chal­lenges, but on a macroe­co­nomic level, over the last few decades, sec­tors such as tourism, man­u­fac­tur­ing and a myr­iad of ser­vice in­dus­tries have been re­li­able pil­lars of sup­port. The chal­lenge is that these streams of eco­nomic po­ten­tial (as cur­rently struc­tured) are not enough to com­bat our debt and help us to achieve the over­all goals for the econ­omy.

It is clear that the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing in­dus­tries, cou­pled with the cre­ation of new ones, needs to be ad­vanced to cre­ate more av­enues that will nur­ture Ja­maica’s growth. As the de­vel­op­ment of in­dus­try is a sig­nif­i­cant part of JAMPRO’s man­date, the agency has led the way in the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try’s out­sourc­ing in­dus­try by ini­tially at­tract­ing of in­vest­ment in data en­try cen­tres in the late 1990s. To­day, the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to progress and now em­ploys more than 21,000 per­sons.

Sim­i­larly, JAMPRO has also part­nered with key stake­holder in the de­vel­op­ment of bur­geon­ing sec­tors such as in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial ser­vices, and ex­port-fo­cused in­dus­tries such as the cre­ative in­dus­tries, for in­vest­ment.

With re­gards to the cre­ative in­dus­tries, Ja­maica has long been a cul­tural leader not only re­gion­ally, but also in the wider world. While we tell our sto­ries on the in­ter­na­tional stage, the ques­tion re­mains, how can we har­ness this in­nate part of our iden­tity and sup­port the growth of these in­dus­tries so the econ­omy can ben­e­fit? JAMPRO must fo­cus on creat­ing so­lu­tions to fill the gap that sti­fles de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ments in these in­dus­tries. Last year, JAMPRO fa­cil­i­tated un­der J$700 mil­lion in cre­ative in­dus­tries projects or projects linked to these in­dus­tries. We can do more. To de­velop the sec­tor, es­pe­cially the film in­dus­try, JAMPRO will fo­cus on ad­vanc­ing the cre­ation of a Ja­maica Film Fund, which would es­tab­lish a na­tional pro­duc­tion fund as a ve­hi­cle to in­cen­tivise both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.

CHANCE TO DI­VER­SIFY

In­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial ser­vices also pro­vide a chance to di­ver­sify the econ­omy and pro­vide fur­ther growth for the fi­nance sec­tor. It is a mul­ti­tril­lion dol­lar in­dus­try glob­ally, and in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries such as Ber­muda and the Cay­man Is­lands, it has be­come a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to their economies. The Ja­maica In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Author­ity (JIFSA) is charged with build­ing on the global lessons learnt in these ju­ris­dic­tions and repli­cate their suc­cess in Ja­maica.

The goal is to cre­ate a sys­tem where Ja­maicans can en­joy high-pay­ing jobs and lu­cra­tive ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, while the Gov­ern­ment earns tax in­come. The econ­omy would be in­jected by for­eign ex­change from the in­flux of in­ter­na­tional em­ploy­ees util­is­ing lo­cal pro­fes­sion­als such as at­tor­neys, ac­coun­tants, bankers, and many oth­ers would also ben­e­fit di­rectly from the new fi­nan­cial ser­vices clien­tele. JAMPRO is work­ing in part­ner­ship with JIFSA to pro­mote this sec­tor for in­vest­ment, and re­alise the po­ten­tial boost for the econ­omy.

JAMPRO will con­tinue to fo­cus on high­light­ing the value propo­si­tion of Ja­maica for busi­ness in these and other sec­tors as we cre­ate and im­ple­ment world-lead­ing in­vestor-en­gage­ment strate­gies that take po­ten­tial in­vestors from en­quiry to im­ple­men­ta­tion.

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