Don't sacrifice BPO for logistics, urges Gloria Henry
Businesswoman Gloria Henry, the new president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), is urging the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) not to sacrifice the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector to develop logistics, but, instead, create a framework that will make it easier for prospective investors to do business in Jamaica.
Henry, who was speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Collective Solution, a new BPO company that will be housed at the old Jockey garment factory in Sandy Bay, Hanover, said new investors are eyeing Jamaica, but are concerned about bureaucratic hindrances.
"Right now, new investors are seeking to set up operations, which are being put on halt due to bureaucratic incongruence," said Henry, who is also an executive at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), which is in charge of operations at the Montego Bay Free Zone.
"Our regulators need to understand the potential impact that this industry can have on a community, a parish, and the nation. We need to make it easier to do business for potential investors," she added.
"In particular, we should not appear to be sacrificing one sector to create another, as it sometimes seems with the current SEZ (special economic zone) that was seemingly created to facilitate logistics, but is hampering the growth path of the BPO sector currently."
At ODDS OVER PROPOSALS
The BPIAJ, which represents approximately 45 players in the information and communication technology and BPO sectors, has been at loggerheads with JSEZA over several proposals that will affect the industry under the new act, which was passed in January 2016.
Dr Horace Chang, who gave the keynote address, was quick to point out that the creation of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation was to encourage investment.
"We are committed to economic growth, to job creation, and growth with job creation," said Chang. "In the international world, there is always talk of investment and growth without jobs. We have a huge jobless situation and we want economic growth, but we want jobs in the process, and the business process services offer the opportunity for major increase in job creation."
The BPO sector enjoys the highest employment growth rate of any sector in the last decade and currently accounts for more than 22,000 jobs across the island.
Collective Solution is an established entity in the global BPO sector, having sites in the Philippines and Honduras, servicing e-commerce, telecoms, health care, and assets recovery. The company's new facility campus, which is currently undergoing a US$2 million refurbishment, is set to start operations in September with 400 employees, and a projection of over 3,000 by the end of 2018.