Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Skew procurement policy to local firms – Seaga

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:52 AMAlbert Ferguson

WESTERN BUREAU:

Metry Seaga, the outspoken president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), says the country will only begin to experience economic growth above three per cent if the Government changes its procurement policy.

In an interview with The Gleaner, in which he was quizzed about a recent statement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that the economy was not growing at the expected pace despite a realignment in macroeconomic indicators, Seaga argued that procurement reform, among other issues, needed to be addressed.

“I would say that we need to change our procurement policy. Pay more attention to manufacturing, exporting, and agriculture, and if we do those three things, I think that you would see a significant shift in what our growth rates will look like,” Seaga told The Gleaner.

“Procurement is designed and is very much skewed towards imports, and I feel it needs to be skewed towards locally manufactured produce. If we can spend our money here at home, we are going to save significant amounts of foreign exchange and make ourselves richer,” added Seaga.

Disappointment

Last week, while speaking at a function at Essex Valley, St Elizabeth, Holness expressed disappointment over the fact that over the last three years, the economy has limped along at less than two per cent, a far cry from his aspirational pitch of five per cent growth in four years.

“We can’t even say that we are growing until we have crossed two per cent. Two per cent is really, from our perspective, the threshold for take-off,” Holness said.

“The outturn of the last fiscal quarter was 1.8 per cent while the quarter before that had a slight difference, ending at 2.2 per cent. For the past three years, we have not got over the two per cent hump. “

The JMEA boss said that the manufacturing sector has provided the Government with a plan that would guarantee a further four per cent growth, but the Government has been slow to move.

“We have said to the Government, if we get four per cent money, we feel that in two years, we could increase our contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) from eight per cent to 12 per cent,” said Seaga. “We have been clamouring for a four per cent loan arrangement for the last two years along with factory spaces at reduced rates.”