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Business in Brief

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Banks await regulators' guidance on ganja loans

Financial institutions are awaiting guidance from the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Jamaica on whether they can grant loans to farmers and entrepreneurs for the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal or religious purposes.

Executive director of the Jamaica Bankers' Association Richard Murray said the treatment of the emergent sector has not been formally discussed by the banks and that the group would rather be guided by financial regulators.

The amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act, which makes possession of ganja weighing two ounces a non-arrestable though ticketable offence, took effect on April 15.

The new law essentially decriminalises the possession of small amounts of ganja for personal use and sets out a regime for the cultivation of the drug for medical purposes.

Jamaica National rethinking reverse mortgages

Jamaica National Building Society, the only known mortgage lender offering a reverse-mortgage product, says the service is on hold pending review.

Such mortgages allow older persons to tap the equity in their homes for income.

Jamaica National says it is rethinking its strategy, having put the programme on hold last year.

"A reverse mortgage enables retirees to borrow against their home's equity, while maintaining ownership of the home at a point in their lives when their income is reduced. This is a powerful retirement planning tool when utilised properly," said JNBS executive for mortgage operations Keisha Melhado-Forrest.

"We previously offered this product but stopped doing so in 2014. At this point, we have a relatively small and gradually declining portfolio of reverse-mortgage loans, while we carry out a reassessment of our previous offering," said Melhado-Forrest.

Tourism awareness campaign

The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment has launched a public campaign aimed at assessing the value placed by ordinary Jamaicans on the travel trade as a source of income for the economy, generally, and for their communities.

Its other objective is to combat the impact of harassment on the US$2 billion industry. Tourist visits to Jamaica top two million per year.

The campaign, priced at $15 million, encompasses traditional advertising through print and radio, social media outreach - mainly through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter - the tourism ministry's website, and direct interface with the public through town hall meetings and community forums.

"The messages will explain and highlight information on the breadth and extent of tourism-funded investment, which contributes significantly to job creation, investment, and national growth and development," the tourism ministry said.