Sun | Aug 20, 2017

PNP defends record in technology

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Julian Robinson (left), PNP deputy general secretary and state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, giving a synopsis of his portfolio to members of the Gleaner's Youth Council last Saturday.
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State minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Julian Robinson has charged that foreigners are seeing more opportunities in Jamaica than locals despite the fact that the same incentives for starting businesses in the island are offered to everyone.

Robinson, who was responding to concerns expressed by the Gleaner's Youth Council that there are not enough jobs locally for young scientists, sought to dispel what he believes is the myth that foreign investors are privy to more tax breaks than local business owners.

"The incentives that are available to investors are the same for locals as for foreigners. It is a perception; it is not reality. They are exactly the same," said Robinson.

"The free zone incentives that BPO (business process outsourcing) companies get, locals get. The incentives that hotel companies get, whether you are local or foreign, you get as well. It is not about incentives. It is about a mindset that believes that there are not enough opportunities here, and then foreigners take it," said Robinson.

He argued that the People's National Party (PNP) administration has improved access to business capital through organisations such as the Development Bank of Jamaica and has also introduced a credit rating system.

Robinson pointed to the reform of the bankruptcy laws and improved intellectual property access among other changes that he said the administration has implemented to make it easier to start a business in the island.

According to Robinson, getting Jamaicans to take the plunge into innovative enterprises continues to remain a challenge for the most part.

"Why is it that our private sector is reticent or reluctant to see opportunities in our own country that others see? I worry about, for example, the same ganja industry because is a whole heap of big man a fly on plane to come down here to come and see how they can make some money."

WILLING INVESTORS NEEDED

The state minister, who is also a deputy general secretary of the PNP, argued that while there were some local businesses doing exceptionally well, Jamaica needs more persons willing to invest in innovations.

"The work that scientists do sometimes takes five, 10, 15 years before your work evolves into something that is of commercial value, and unfortunately, not many of the private-sector companies are willing to make that investment.

"As a country, innovation has been extremely low as a priority," he said.

The Gleaner's Youth Council, in a piece titled 'Don't Destroy Our Future', had argued that insufficient measures were being put in place to ensure that Jamaica took advantage of technology.