Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Holness takes credit for favourable business environment

Published:Friday | March 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) and Paul B.Scott (right), chairman, Seprod, in animated discussion as they walk past silos at the Seprod Factory in Kingston. The occasion was the Jamaica Grain and Cereas Limited's official opening and launch of Gold Seal flour. The launch was held at Seprod's offices in downtown Kingston on Thursday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday gave his administration a pat on the back for creating an enabling business environment, citing as evidence the official opening of Jamaica Grain and Cereals' state-of-the-art multigrain milling facility, which was upgraded at a cost of $3 billion as strong testament.

The facility, which produces Gold Seal Flour and Pronto Porridge mix, is an associated company of the Seprod Group and now includes a grain terminal at Kingston Wharves for the receipt of grain shipments.

"I stand here claiming partnership in this. Yes, the Government has created an environment so that entrepreneurs can take risks, calculated risks," said Holness. "And we want to see more entrepreneurs, more businesses, whether it is in manufacturing, whether it is in agriculture. We want to see more risk taking, and we are making sure that the environment is one that (facilitates) calculated risks on investments," he told the opening ceremony.

"We can't grow as a country unless we have entrepreneurs, and by definition, the entrepreneur is the risk taker; but we don't want reckless people to be entrepreneurs. We want people who can calculate the risk," the prime minister cautioned.

However, he called for a refocus on exports, a component that he admitted has been missing from the growth agenda of successive administrations, referencing a speech by Dr Andre Gordon, former head of the Jamaica Exporters' Association.

"He made some very valid points that if we are going to achieve our growth targets, we must refocus our efforts on exports. Our local market is not Jamaica. Our local market is CARICOM, and we must treat CARICOM as our market," said Holness. "I want to give our manufacturers the assurance that we have taken a very strategic approach with CARICOM. We have developed a strategy that we want to make a national strategy that if Government changes, the strategy toward CARCIOM remains."

The report on Jamaica's position on CARICOM is now before the Parliament, and the prime minister expressed hope that it would be fine-tuned and ready for presentation at the next heads of government conference, to be hosted by Jamaica in July.

Meanwhile, Paul B. Scott chairman of Seprod, said that the opening of this best-in-class and "perhaps most modern flour mill in Latin America or this hemisphere" is an endorsement of the favourable business environment. The flour mill will immediately create 300 jobs.