MSMEs to get pri­or­ity at­ten­tion, says Bartlett

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Okoye Henry Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: TOURISM MIN­IS­TER Ed­mund Bartlett says his min­istry is on a path­way to de­crease the sec­tor’s im­port bill through the in­tro­duc­tion of sev­eral pro­grammes geared to­wards em­pow­er­ing mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs) to pro­duce au­then­tic lo­cally made prod­ucts for vis­i­tors.

Speak­ing at last Thurs­day’s western Ja­maica launch of the 2017 Caribbean MSME Con­fer­ence in Mon­tego Bay, St James, the tourism min­is­ter said that de­spite the gains in for­eign ex­change from tourism, more than half that money does not stay in the is­land and is in­stead chan­neled into the im­port bill.

“So they (tourists) bring the money come and it goes back out even when they con­sume things lo­cally be­cause we have to im­port ev­ery­thing,” said Bartlett.

Ja­maica earned ap­prox­i­mately $2.5 bil­lion from the 2.2 mil­lion stopover vis­i­tors last year.

“So we (the coun­try) now must put our­selves in the po­si­tion where the shops that we have sell au­then­tic Ja­maican items and mer­chan­dise, which the peo­ple will gen­er­ate in Ja­maica and (the in­come) stay in Ja­maica. We also need to pro­duce food here. If we do that, then the dol­lar will re­main here,” added Bartlett.

The Ja­maica Cen­tre for Tourism In­no­va­tion, which was re­cently es­tab­lished, was cre­ated to drive the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal busi­nesses. Train­ing for in­di­vid­u­als and MSMEs will be­gin in Septem­ber at the Mon­tego Bay Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

Ac­cord­ing to Bartlett, for­mal train­ing will be pro­vided in var­i­ous ar­eas of tourism to the par­tic­i­pants, who will be pro­vided with the req­ui­site ac­cred­i­ta­tion and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion at the end of train­ing. He also noted that there will be the es­tab­lish­ment of the In­sti­tute of Craft De­vel­op­ment to broaden the per­spec­tive of lo­cal craft ven­dors and lead to the cre­ation of more in­dige­nous prod­ucts.

REAL PUSH NEEDED

“We are com­mit­ted to do that. We are putting our money where our mouth is, but we want you to buy into it,” said Bartlett.

“So, let us own it and give small and medium en­ti­ties a real push to cre­ate jobs, earn money and have pros­per­ity.”

The much-an­tic­i­pated 2017 Caribbean MSME Con­fer­ence, which will be held at the Hil­ton Rose Hall Re­sort in Mon­tego Bay from July 19 to 21.

Close to a 1,000 peo­ple from all the coun­tries in CARICOM are ex­pected to at­tend the event, which will be staged un­der the theme ‘Col­lab­o­ra­tion for Caribbean Sus­tain­abil­ity’.

The con­fer­ence will fo­cus on mat­ters such as re­lat­ing to poli­cies, fi­nance and trade that can lead to greater col­lab­o­ra­tion with busi­nesses in the Caribbean.

BARTLETT

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