President and chief executive officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited, Richard Byles, said that going forward there should be heightened public participation in holding government accountable for its economic programmes.
He said that last year several things happened that reminded him that the operation and success of businesses intertwined with the overall health of the economy.
"No matter how well you build a company, no matter how prudent you are in managing it, no matter how good you are with that company if it is operated in an economy in trouble you are in trouble too," he told participants at the company's 13th annual award ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday night.
And that was the lesson he said he learnt last year.
"All of the work we are doing at Sagicor to make it into a successful entity is penetrated by the economic environment. It is infected by the economic environment," he said.
Last year the government introduced several tax measures that impacted the financial sector, among them a new asset tax budgeted to earn J$1.95 billion to help offset the gap in the budget.
Dividends payable to shareholders was also taxed and many have argued that this is a disincentive to investing.
In addition, last month the government undertook a debt swap under the National Debt Exchange (NDX), the second in three years.
"The truth is that the Jamaican economy is on the edge of a cliff and it is going to take a few years . many years of hard work to pull up from that edge," he said.
"We cannot divorce ourselves from playing an active role to ensure that we do the right thing as a people. In other words you can't leave it to the politicians. We the businesses in Jamaicans and the people of Jamaica have to be more proactive to make sure that this country makes the right decision," Byles said.
If the country should leave managing the economy, without public oversight, up to politicians' then "we are going to be in trouble," he added.
Therefore, full public participation is needed to ensure that "politicians make the right decisions about running the country," the Sagicor CEO said.
Sagicor reported profits for the 13th consecutive year. According to the company's audited financial results, last year it earned revenue of J$31.48 billion. This is 9.79 per cent or J$2.81 billion increase over the J$28.6 billion earned the previous year.
Sagicor reported net profit of J$5.99 billion. In 2011 net profit was J$5.75 billion.
"I have spent the last five months almost in a pressure cooker with this whole NDX business, Byles said. We don't want to go that road again. We just want to do what we have to do," he added.
"The results could have been better but the new asset tax and the negative effects of the NDX and other actuarial liabilities cost us about J$565 million, Byles said.