Skills training and creative industries to get special attention, too
Members of the Economy and Production Committee of Parliament yesterday agreed to focus on energy, tourism, skills training and creative industries as key areas on which the country must focus to achieve economic growth for the success of government programmes.
In opening comments yesterday, chairman of the committee Member of Parliament (MP) Anthony Hylton, said economic growth was a shared government objective and something all governments desired. He bemoaned the fact that the committee did not have a specific date for meetings and members were doubling up for committees and had no space.
"Energy is critical to all our goals, which is to grow the economy to engender and sustain economic growth. It is, therefore, the kind of effort that we must make as part of the monitoring by this committee of the activities by Government of this committee to ensure that we are on track with the vision as outlined by the administration," Hylton told members of the committee in opening comments yesterday.
As a result, representatives of the energy sector will be first to appear before the committee when it meets next at a time to be determined in two weeks' time.
St Catherine South MP Fitz Jackson said it was the responsibility of all members and all administrations that policies aimed at economic growth be engendered.
"We should use the committee to highlight any particular areas that we identify that are critical in enhancing production, and the economic growth of the country. I suggest that we look at some of those areas in the context of the growth agenda as that has been the agenda of all administrations," said Jackson.
He said the energy sector was critical to the ability of every organisation to advance, and the committee should quiz the Jamaica Public Service Company on its capacity to provide the country with the energy needed to improve greater manufacturing capacity. The cost and replacement of old machinery, and the attendant reduction costs as a result of greater efficiency should be shared.
Tourism was next on his list, and he said we should seek to build on the strength of that industry.
Committee member, Senator Floyd Green said the creative industries should be given priority as Jamaica still had some of the top entertainment acts in the world.
"There have been a number of complaints from different areas of the industry about costs, plus many other issues. I think it is worthy of exploration, and as a committee we should place some focus on the constituency in a real way," said Green.
Hylton agreed, saying it was a low hanging area with advantages and deserved much attention, especially in the areas of intellectual issues, especially cross border.
MP Mikhail Phillips said the area of skills training was critical to employment and the productive sector, and said the area of logistics was very important as that was the area in which the country was moving.
MP Evon Redman said agriculture and the attendant issues of praedial larceny were critical to the success of the sector and should be considered as many were discouraged after their investments were lost to praedial thieves.