Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Growth & Jobs | Jamaica must leapfrog to economic development

Published:Monday | November 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Senator Aubyn Hill, executive director of the Economic Growth Council, addresses the audience during the third in a series of dialogue titled ‘Conversations III’ at The Mico University College recently. The dialogue was held under the theme: ‘Education and Training: Key Drivers of Economic Growth and Job Creation’. Seated are Ricardo Durrant, sales and promotions manager, JAMPRO, one of three panellists, and Onika Miller, managing director, MCS Group – the non-financial arm of The Jamaica National Group. The conversation was moderated by Miller.
Senator Aubyn Hill, executive director of the Economic Growth Council, addresses the audience during the third in a series of dialogue entitled Conversations III at The Mico University College recently. The dialogue was held under the theme: Education and Training: Key Drivers of Economic Growth and Job Creation. Seated in the background are, from left: Ricardo Durrant, sales and promotions manager, JAMPRO one of the three panellists, and Onika Miller, managing director, MCS Group- the non-financial arm of The Jamaica National Group. The conversation was moderated by Miller.
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Executive director of the Economic Growth Council (EGC), Senator Aubyn Hill, has said Jamaica cannot afford to incrementally grow if it wants to achieve economic progress.

He was speaking late last week at the third in a series of conversations about education at The Mico University College in Kingston, which was organised with support from The Jamaica National Group. The conversation was centred on the theme 'Education and Training: Key Drivers for Economic Growth and Job Creation'.

"I am saying to you that we are going to have to do some leapfrogging, if we are going to get to where we have to go," he underlined.

Using the introduction of Digicel, with support from the National Commercial Bank (NCB), at the start of the millennium as an example, the former NCB boss pointed to how the rapid growth of access to cell phones impacted the development of the country. He said prior to Digicel, it took Jamaicans as much as 10 to 15 years to get a landline; however, with the competition provided by Digicel in the mobile phone subsector, the masses were able to access phones and not only a privileged few.

"If you cannot leapfrog, you cannot do anything really exceptional," he said; and maintained that "some things you cannot achieve by 'incrementalising' ... you have to leapfrog."

 

Hinged on knowledge

 

However, he said the rapid development Jamaica wants to achieve must be hinged on knowledge.

"Knowledge is to prosperity what Digicel's investment was to telecommunications in Jamaica," he declared. "It is not raw materials and minerals. Japan doesn't have any!" he emphasised.

The senator said Jamaica needs to strengthen its investment in science and engineering, and propel itself to a point where it can use its highly skilled workforce as a bargaining tool to attract investment. Using Costa Rica as an example, he said Jamaica can leverage its expert workforce to attract investors, instead of offering them tax breaks or tax incentives.

"One of the things the IMF is saying is, don't bother with those waivers that you give to investors. If the business is so good, why are you waiving? Why are you taking poor Jamaicans' money, because when you waive you are not getting the taxes, and you are giving to rich investors," he explained.

"We must train people so (that) when they come to this country they don't worry to ask for waivers, because we have the best waiver we can give them, our graduates..." he noted.