Tue | Aug 22, 2017

JLP not focusing on the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness will seek out rich Jamaicans to invest in the island rather than the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world, under a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration.

Large global companies need reasons to invest in Jamaica, Holness reasoned.

"First, why would Mark Zuckerberg come here other than for sand, sea, sand and a kind of social entrepreneurial spirit?" said the politician, who was responding to questions thrown at him by noted accountant, Sushil Jain, at the Jamaica Stock Exchange annual capital markets conference under way in New Kingston.

Jain, a conference attendee, criticised the growth recommendations in Holness' conference speech, saying they were not transformative, and that the island needed to woo investors like Zuckerberg, who is the chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Facebook.

Holness said the Facebook entrepreneur would first have to "consider training people to have enough IT experts to make meaningful use of the investment" in Jamaica.

"So when we talk about bringing in big investment, we have to ask what is the value proposition of bringing them to Jamaica," the Opposition Leader said in response to Jain.

The JLP top brass has developed a plan to appoint investment ambassadors whose remit would involve approaching wealthy individuals, especially those in the diaspora.

"We are already quietly out talking to persons who we know have networks that can bring investors here, maybe not Mark Zuckerberg or a Bill Gates. But there are some Jamaicans who have done pretty well, and Jamaica is not right now on their radar," said Holness. "We need to reach out to them. That is a job for the prime minister and also a job for the investment ambassadors and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com