Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Sectoral Presentations 2018-2019 | Creating jobs, empowering Jamaicans

Published:Saturday | June 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Daryl Vaz
Daryl Vaz (centre), minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Ibex CEO Bob Dechant, and JAMPRO President Diane Edwards at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Ibex’s new downtown Kingston office in January.
Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, and Lyttleton Tanny Shirley , chairman of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica, in conversation at the Outsource2Jamaica cocktail reception.
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Excerpts from the presentation by Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio (Land, Environment, Climate Change and Investment) in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation

Growth trending upwards

 

Growth with jobs is the primary aim of this administration. The preliminary projection for growth for the 2017-2018 financial year is 0.9 per cent. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is currently in the process of collecting information and data for the last quarter of the 2017-2018 fiscal year (January-March 2018) and this could lead to a revision oftthe PIOJ's growth projection for the period.

However, the PIOJ is projecting real growth of 2.5 per cent for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the PIOJ is projecting economic growth of 3.0 per cent, as against 5 in 4, reflecting growth in all industries with the exception of producers of government services due to the fiscal consolidation programme being pursued by the GOJ. It is expected that growth will be propelled by increased capital utilisation in some industries as a result of higher local and external demand.

 

Unemployment trending downwards

 

We are reaping success from the plans and programmes that we have put in place in partnership with the private sector. The proof of the pudding is the unemployment rate which, I am happy to say, continues to trend downwards. STATIN is reporting that in January the rate was 9.6 per cent, the lowest it has been since October 2008. This represents a decrease of 3.1 percentage points when compared with 12.7 per cent in January 2017.

In the same period, the unemployment rate for males decreased by 1.5 percentage points, from 9.0 per cent to 7.5 per cent, while the rate for females had a larger decline (4.9 percentage points), from 17.0 per cent to 12.1 per cent.

The unemployment rate for youth was 23.8 per cent in January 2018, representing a decrease of 7.4 percentage points, when compared to the rate of 31.2 per cent in January 2017. We will not stop until all the figures are in single digits.

It is important to note that most of those who gained employment were non-government employees. This is consistent with the GOJ goal for the private sector to be the principal engine of economic growth. We are Creating Jobs - Empowering Jamaicans.

 

BPO/outsourcing

 

One of the driving forces behind the lowered unemployment rate is outsourcing, which the Government has identified as a key pillar of the country's Economic Growth and Job Creation Strategy.

The ICT/BPO sector continues to be a high-performing segment of Jamaica's services industries, and has enjoyed the highest employment growth rate of any sector in the last decade.

Currently, over 60 companies offer call centre and BPO services, and they account for more than 26,000 jobs across the island. We had already surpassed our target of 11,000 jobs for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, with a forecast of 11,665 jobs created as at November 2017 and we anticipate even further growth in the sector this year.

Several initiatives have been undertaken by this administration to successfully implement the five- year National Strategy. They include the formation of the IT-BPO Task Force and the National BPO Coordinator to drive, oversee implementation, and update the development work plan for the BPO industry.

We are also moving to strengthen the enabling environment for the sector, including the Policy and Legislative Framework; Labour Market Enhancement; Infrastructure Development and Market Penetration. The Development Bank of Jamaica recently committed US$73 million to finance 15 BPO projects islandwide. To date, the DBJ has disbursed over US$56 .7 million to the BPO sector, which is roughly 78 per cent of its total loan commitments. Those loans have led to the creation of approximately 1.1 million square feet of BPO commercial space, with a projected 24,520 jobs to be created when all projects are completed.

Last year, we commenced our development of new spaces in Montego Bay and Portmore to create over 6,000 new job opportunities. The Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) has undertaken to design and construct some 750,000 square feet of BPO space on 34 acres with a target of approximately 20,000 jobs. Among them is the Naggo Head Technology Park. Over two acres of land has been secured and construction has already begun on the tech park. Phase one will provide an additional 120,000 square feet in outsourcing space. The FCJ has already received approvals for the project and is at the final stage of preparing the Joint Venture Agreement to be approved by Cabinet.

The Naggo Head Technology Park will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean and will house a diverse group of BPO companies supported by critical support services such as rooms and boarding, a day care centre, gymnasium, restaurant, internet cafes, homework centre, retail outlets, among other facilities.

 

Land

 

Land remains an integral factor in the pursuit of economic growth, and social development as key sectors rely heavily on land and its utilisation. The Cabinet had approved the merger of LAMP into NLA with a clear and decisive objective of improving land titling in the country.

I want to state for the record that the NLA/LAMP merger followed extensive consultations with all stakeholders, including the opposition and the legal fraternity. We have citizens who have to wait in some cases more than five years to be able to get their land titles.

This is inconsistent with the Government's objective to empower our people in order to grow the economy in various industries, many of which are dependent on the effective use of land, for example, the agriculture and construction sectors.

We cannot successfully fix this problem by using the same approach that has been tried for the past 40 years. We have to adopt new approaches to make the process easier by reducing the number of steps, and at the same time making it more affordable to obtain a land title.

We plan to achieve this by adopting a simple, transparent and participatory community-based approach to adjudication in order to establish landownership. This type of approach has been used successfully in various countries worldwide to carry out rapid land titling and as a way to reduce the cost and time for formalising land-ownership.

 

Conclusion

 

Mr Speaker, we continue to make modest but steady gains in our growth agenda. We are making greater gains in reducing unemployment and we will not stop until all major groupings record single digits.

I have a vision of a Jamaica that is strong fiscally and socially. A Jamaica where all citizens work together to build the foundation for inclusive growth. A Jamaica where economic opportunities abound for all our citizens. A Jamaica where innovative businesses have the support they need to grow and thrive. A Jamaica that attracts the kind of investment that will set us firmly on track to become the force that we are meant to be in this region.

As digital strategy expert Ray Goforth said... "There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed."

We have a fail-proof recipe for success. We have the will, we have the drive, we have the necessary human and natural resources, and most important, we have the necessary political leadership to achieve these objectives.

Nothing will hold us back, and together we will build the Jamaica that we all envision...

"The place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business".