Jamaica Gleaner / Western Bureau:
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated that though his administration took control of the Government on a promise of promoting growth and job creation, there continue to be shortfalls because of a less-than-ideal economic environment to drive investments.
Holness, who was speaking in Montego Bay, St James, last week, admitted that while Jamaica is seeing job creation in a number of sectors, overall economic growth is not as strong as he would like.
“It is not a complicated endeavour, but it is complex,” said Holness. “We need a new set of investments to start to take effect on the economy to see the growth numbers move.”
Holness stated that, despite the best of intentions, the projected growth can only be achieved by the private sector, not the Jamaican Government, whose task it is to create the environment for development.
“I am making the point that governments cannot grow the economy. Growth is really a function of the private sector,” said Holness.
“It is businesses that make the decisions to invest and take risks, to put up concrete, or build innovation in technology. It is really the private initiatives that really drive economic growth.”
“The purpose of Government is to create the environment in which private initiatives can flourish. I think the Government needs to do more. We are doing quite a bit, but we need to do more and do it very quickly so that more people in the private sector can take the risks and invest.”
The prime minister said the Government was committed to streamlining all the legal channels and regulatory processes, which will make it easier to set up business here in Jamaica. He noted that local banks seem to be more willing to look at potential investments and actually give loans for start-ups.
“Once we get more banks doing this, and the data is showing that loans for productive businesses are increasing, not just for consumption, that is a very good sign for growth,” said Holness.
“So I want all our entrepreneurs to be reassured that the Government understands this very complex dynamic of getting growth, and that we are committed to do everything in our powers to make sure that we create an environment in which you can thereby grow Jamaica.”