Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Economic Growth Council head Lee Chin avoids calling out the banks

Published:Thursday | May 5, 2016 | 5:05 PMSteven Jackson

Women business groups called for specifics on the growth projections espoused by chairman of the newly formed Economic Growth Council, Michael Lee-Chin, while pushing for his bank to reduce fees at a forum Thursday.

Lee Chin's arguments remain largely philosophical but beneath his motivational talk lies a target to increase the output from agriculture, mining, remittances and tourism each by 20 per cent.

That would form the foundation for his "5 in 4 plan" — that is, five per cent growth per annum in the fourth year of the council's formation.

Lee Chin wants members of the private and public sectors to pledge their support for the EGC growth initiative. He has contemplated publishing the names of entities which reject the initiative.

The Women's Leadership Initiative and International Women's Forum were invited to discuss their concerns with Lee Chin at The Atrium, the headquarters of National Commercial Bank, Jamaica’s largest bank, which is owned by Lee Chin.

Chair of the International Women's Forum in Jamaica, Camille Facey, called on Lee-Chin to pledge his bank to reduce fees and improve efficiency to facilitate business. Transacting business with the banks take far too long, said Facey.

"The banks need to be a part of the pledge,” she asserted.

Lee Chin but avoided a direct response to Facey’s demand, saying everyone needs to support the initiative,

"That is not just for entrepreneurs, but for everyone in Jamaica. Public sector and private sector. So all of us have to step up with our creativity," he said.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the formation of the EGC last week, with Lee Chin as chairman. Holness said the council would build on his administration’s growth thrust.

Jamaica lags the region with average growth of 1.0 per cent per annum since the 1970s. Growth is projected at over two per cent this year.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com