Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
While urging manufacturers to position themselves to help rebuild the country's ailing economy, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), Brian Pengelley, is calling on the Government to tell the country how it plans to address a throng of issues that is impeding growth.
Among the issues that Pengelley is seeking answers on is the long- stated public-sector and tax reforms, the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as its plans to curb the upsurge in crime.
"What are the initiatives that our government is planning to communicate to the IMF to meet the four pillars of growth, competitiveness, fiscal and social responsibility? How will they impact the sector and, most important, how can we partner to make it work?"
The JMA boss said, "We continue to call for a firm commitment on the way forward on competitive power generation and an understanding of how the nation intends to deal with crime".
"There are numerous initiatives that must happen such as tax reform, energy diversification, public-sector and pension reform, as well as security and bureaucracy issues that must be addressed."
Last Friday, Generation 2000 (G2K), the young professional arm of the Jamaica Labour Party also lamented the fact that "there is still no substantial evidence" to show that the White Paper on tax reform will be tabled anytime soon despite the IMF team being booked to depart the island soon.
Crime reduction not priority
The G2K also chastised the Government for what it says was its failure to make crime reduction a priority.
In the meantime, Pengelley, who was addressing the JMA annual awards banquet last Thursday night, used the occasion to warn manufacturers that the economy will never recover "should we continue to be a nation of importers".
"Manufacturers, we have a critical role to play in the recovery of Jamaica's economy and we must take the lead on communicating and aligning consumers, Government and all Jamaicans on the importance of our sector as one of the primary engines of growth."
"We all know it's not going to be an easy road and the years ahead are also going to be challenging. I ask that together we reignite that passion, support and love of our people, Government and all stakeholders in manufacturing. Spread the word that the way forward for Jamaica is to expand production, export and investment in manufacturing," Pengelley said.