Economic failure breeds no-confidence culture - Byles

Published: Wednesday | December 4, 2013 Comments 0
Richard Byles
Richard Byles

President and chief executive officer of Sagicor Life Jamaica Richard Byles said that unless the private sector 'crowds in' to the breach created by the Jamaican Government's fiscal tightening, even modest economic growth will be challenging.

He outlined five conditions which he believes will induce growth, namely private-sector confidence in the economic future, near-term growth-stimulating initiatives, creation of investment opportunities, initiating medium-term projects, and credible leadership.

Emphasising that private-sector confidence was fundamental to economic growth, Byles noted that "we have a legacy of economic failure, which in turn, has bred a culture of no confidence in some sections of the business community."

That culture, he said, "blinds us to opportunities that others, who have not had our bad experience, see clearly, and seize. In a manner of speaking, this is the natural order of business - successful businesses of the past miss opportunities, wither and are replaced by newer and more aggressive businesses."

He was delivering the 2013 Planning Institute of Jamaica dialogue for development lecture in Kingston last week.

Technically sound

Referring to why "we at Sagicor have confidence enough to continue to invest," Blyes said they have examined the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies the Jamaican Government has submitted to IMF "and believe it to be technically sound and achievable, and can lead to greater economic stability, subject only to the determination of the two political parties to stick to it".

He continued: "We have a strong business culture of innovation and growth. We have the financial resources and we do not have to depend on bank finance. We have followed the signals of the economy and are excited by the prospect of being in the global marketplace and earning US dollars. We have seized opportunities presented by others of lesser commitment and who want to exit their business."

In addition, he said, "we have so much invested in Jamaica" and Government of Jamaica securities "that we have to be committed to economic recovery".

According to Byles, "The fact is that if there is confidence (even hope), that the future will be better. Investors will brave all kinds of perils and work around all types of inefficiencies because the prize is worth it."

He added that "confidence is encouraged by talk but is built by doing. Each quarterly test that is passed, builds confidence. Each investment made by the business sector, builds confidence. Each reform the Government delivers, builds confidence."

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