Sun | Oct 22, 2017

JMA president calls for more community manufacturing

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 12:03 AMSteven Jackson
Metry Seaga, president of the JMA.

Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), wants more manufacturing firms based in communities in order to stir small business and grow the economy.

It's part of a plan to "breathe new life" into the sector, said Seaga in a release based on his remarks at the recent launch of the sixth season of 'The Innovators' TV series.

"An important part of this is getting more manufacturing companies into our communities. The reality is manufacturing is still seen by many as impractical, which is far from the case," the JMA president said, while noting that smaller, community-based manufacturers can increase productivity through linkages with larger firms.

"There are opportunities available for contract manufacturing in which larger companies can coordinate your production, and value-added commodities can be made from agricultural produce found in your community," he said.

Seaga said that in addition to a need for Government to support manufacturing directly by increasing local procurement, individuals and communities have a role to play by buying Jamaican-made products wherever possible. He also urged local community-based manufacturers to adopt available technologies to increase productivity and examine the possibility of partnerships with larger firms, as well as with schools, resorts and other community-based organisations.

The JMA president said the continued resilience of Jamaican entrepreneurs in the manufacturing and other sectors show that significant opportunities are still available in Jamaica, and that the country could find its way out of economic stagnation.

Growth from the community level

"The truth is, community development through purposeful entrepreneurship must be at the heart of any national growth strategy," said Seaga. "If Jamaica is going to grow, if we are going to prosper and reduce our national and international debts, we must re-engage our innovators at the community level. It is from you that there will be growth, that there will be employment and innovation."

He added that manufacturing remained a vital sector, contributing 8.6 per cent to GDP in 2015, compared to agriculture, forestry and fisheries which contributed 6.6 per cent; as well as mining and quarrying and construction which contributed 2.3 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively. Furthermore, manufacturing employed more than 79,000 persons and exported goods valued at US$483 million.

In addition, more than 600 micro and small enterprises in the manufacturing industry filed GCT returns in 2015, compared to 98 in agriculture and 23 in mining. Seaga also addressed the commercial banking sector, which he believes could play a far greater role in supporting manufacturers than at present.

"Recent statistics indicate that manufacturing only received 3.81 per cent of total loans dispersed by commercial banks, in comparison to personal loans which accounted for almost 50 per cent; and the sector only received 8.61 per cent of the total loans received by individuals," he said.

This lack of access to financing has driven the JMA to pursue financial partnerships, including recent initiatives such as the JMA/EXIM Bank Loan Facility, which allows member-companies to borrow up to $1.5 million unsecured, and the JMA/NCB Partnership, which gives JMA members access to the JMA/NCB Business Edge credit card, as well as a pool of funds of up to $2 billion, with interest rates as low as 9.5 per cent and 14 per cent for secured and unsecured facilities, respectively.

The Innovators is a reality business programme hosted by Yaneek Page and Gary Matalon. Each season, 10 participants are featured with one assignment per episode, each going to The Innovators for their guidance and expertise.

business@gleanerjm.com