Jamaica’s investment and export promotions agency, Jampro, is finalising its plan for the launch of the National Investment Policy, a framework expected to help Jamaica reach its investment target of US$2.5 billion by 2020.
It’s the first of its kind for the country, and Jampro reckons that this policy is what the country needs to align the efforts of all entities involved in the attraction of facilitation of local and foreign investments.
Already the development of the policy has received the stamp of approval of Cabinet and a policy steering committee has also been named with the first meeting scheduled to take place in a week. Chairman of Jampro Don Wehby, who also holds the post of chief executive officer of Grace Kennedy, has been appointed chairman of the policy steering committee by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
“We believe that this framework will revolutionise the decentralised handling of investors and dispersion of the investor experience across various arms of Government, while ensuring that there is cohesion among these agencies,” Wehby said at the recently held National Competitiveness Council 7th Annual Business Environment Roundtable at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
Ultimately Jampro’s goal is to triple investments in Jamaica to US$2.5 billion from current investment levels of US$800 million. Jamaica also hopes to see export sales grow to US$2.5 billion in keeping with the National Export Strategy, while creating an additional 100,000 jobs over the next three years.
To undergird the National Investment Policy, the Government says it will provide a politically stable environment conducive to private investment; an atmosphere where investments are safe and the expropriation of investment capital is not a considered option; and a legal environment based on a long tradition of parliamentary democracy.
Additionally, Government is expected to implement the rule of constitutional and statute laws and where security of life and personal property are guaranteed, a stable macroeconomic environment bolstered by prudent fiscal management, a stable exchange rate, flexible exchange control rules and free trade; dependable public utilities; and essential public infrastructure such as roads, ports and airports.
“A major pillar of the strategy recognises that work needs to be done in ensuring that Jamaica is competitive to attract the level of businesses needed to achieve these targets. We recognise that the strategy must also focus on the creation of business environment that is conducive to new and expanding business,” Wehby said.
With a small domestic economy, Jamaica is highly dependent on the export of goods and services in order to earn the foreign exchange required to finance the imports of inputs into the economy.
Traditionally the main foreign exchange earners are: tourism, bauxite and alumina, and agriculture. However, the current growth strategy is based on moving the country up the value chain through positioning Jamaica as the fourth node in the global logistics network to complement Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam.
“A key example of how we expect the National Investment Policy to work is already demonstrated in how the Shovel Ready Investment Programme is already working. With the support of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the Ministry of Tourism and NEPA, this programme identifies both public and privately owned lands that are appropriate for tourism development, seek parameters for the type of development allowed, package and promote the properties to potential investors, and fast-track the development approval process to speed up the investment cycle,” Wehby reasoned.
“With 16 properties in the programme, already we have recorded success with Karisma’s 5,000 hotel room project in St Ann and are actively facilitating interest of eight investors in other properties. This is the kind of impact we can expect when we partner across Government to facilitate economic growth and creation of jobs,” he said.