Wed | Mar 20, 2019

Governmentt must address job creation - Tufton

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: DR CHRISTOPHER Tufton, executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), has said that while Jamaica's economic prospects for growth are now favourable, the Government must take steps to bridge the divide between positive macro-economic performance and job creation for the mass of the people.

Tufton, who was giving the keynote address at the joint-installation ceremony for the Kiwanis clubs of Montego Freeport and New Falmouth at the Grandiosa Hotel, Ramparts Close, St James, on Sunday, said while Jamaica had passed five International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests and received positive ratings from Standards and Poor, the Government was yet to reconcile the positive economic performance with the realities of the people on the ground.

"I am convinced that Jamaica's economic prospects, while critical to the success of this IMF programme, can only work if the Government can effectively and efficiently transition the economy in a way where the growth projections and the passing of those IMF tests are directly linked to the creation of jobs for the people," Tufton told the gathering.

The IMF revised Jamaica's growth prospects for next year and is now indicating that the Jamaican economy will expand by two per cent, up from an initial forecast of 1.1

Structural changes are essential

"There are missing elements that we must try to reconcile with the various agreements and tests that we take and pass with the realities of the people on the ground. It the duty of the policymakers to reconcile this in a way that will be more satisfying to the people on the ground ... . Job creation must be a paramount consideration of this economic reform programme we are pursuing. And our economy needs structural changes to enhance the motivations for investment and the competitiveness to be globally attractive," Tufton said.

Pointing to the business outsourcing sector as a growth inducer with strong job creation prospects, Tufton said the industry, which now employs 8,000 persons in western Jamaica and 14,000 nationwide, has the potential for major expansion, creating between 30,000 and 40,000 new jobs in three to five years.

He, however, cited the risks and expense associated with establishing such centres, where the cost to build space can range anywhere from US$120-US$150 per square foot, reaching up to US$200 per square foot if the developer is required to include internal infrastructure (plug and play).