Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has outlined investment opportunities available in Jamaica, to participants attending the 33rd annual Miami Conference on the Caribbean and Central America.
Speaking at the official opening of the three-day regional Summit on November 30, at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami, United States, the Minister emphasised that Jamaica is ready for investments, and cited a number of strategies being undertaken by the Government to attract investors.
He spoke of the development of the agro-industry, with its array of sub-sectors, including food processing, organic farming and green house production. This, he said, would help meet the demand for more ethnic and processed foods from Jamaica.
Regarding tourism, Mr. Shaw informed of the five per cent increase in visitor arrivals and the two per cent increase in spending recorded in the industry, despite the downturn in the region, caused by the global economic recession.
With the development of the industry, the Minister said that value-added linkages to support the sector, such as the construction of houses for hotel workers, could be explored for investment.
In addition, the Minister said there are opportunities to develop attractions, to provide exotic cuisine, as well as to get involved in the fashion and music industries.
Mr. Shaw spoke of the development of the Falmouth port, being undertaken by Royal Caribbean International, and similar plans for Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Like other large cities worldwide, the Minister said that Kingston would be restored to a vibrant regional investment centre, showcasing the nation’s rich heritage.
According to the Minister, other areas ripe for investment included information and communications technology, which provides opportunities for a range of virtual/remote services; and software development and programming.
Mr. Shaw said that the Government has undertaken a range of reforms, which formed part of the foundation for the nation’s medium-term sustainability.
These included consolidating public sector enterprises, such as Air Jamaica and the Sugar Company of Jamaica, minimising the impact of these enterprises on the accumulation of debt.
Regarding Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Minister reiterated that the discussions with the IMF had secured support from other multilateral agencies, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.
He explained that the Government has embarked on a tax reform programme, which is seeking to formalise and modernise the tax administration, making it more equitable and “putting us on a firm footing towards sustained higher levels of economic growth.”
Participants will spend the next two days in plenary sessions and roundtable discussions, focusing primarily on issues of trade and investment in the region, remittances, crime and drug matters, education and health, transportation and energy.
The annual conference is sponsored by Caribbean and Latin American Action (CLAA), based in Washington, D.C. It brings together a number of the region’s leaders, public and private sector representatives, political and corporate executives and persons engaged in academia. The conference ends on December 2.