Fri | Sep 17, 2021

JAMPRO steps up support for businesses

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:20 AM

Chairman of JAMPRO, Senator Don Wehby, says the agency is developing a set of new measures to bolster growth in the Jamaican economy.

“As Jamaica’s economic development agency, JAMPRO must support our most innovative and creative businesses to expand their production and access new markets, while continuing to build a more business-friendly environment,” Wehby said in a statement yesterday.

The JAMPRO boss said he expected a changed world to emerge post-COVID-19. Wehby said that he was anticipating a trend towards buying local, more health-conscious consumption, increasing demand for natural remedies, rising e-commerce and expanding digital and online solutions.

Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, yesterday told G20 leaders that the coronavirus has now triggered a worldwide recession. She noted that recovery was expected in 2021 “only if we succeed in containing the virus everywhere and prevent liquidity problems from becoming insolvency issue”.

Bank of Jamaica Governor, Richard Byles, says the Jamaican economy was expected to suffer a huge impact from COVID-19, contracting by about three per cent for the year.

In his statement, Wehby said that JAMPRO would provide increased support to the agribusiness sector to attract and facilitate new technology-driven investment, as well as facilitate linkages between farmers, manufacturers, and service providers. “We must increase production to improve food security, raise productivity and create sustainable value-added food products,” he added.

Wehby said the measures being suggested by JAMPRO at this time were a snapshot of what the agency would be doing during the COVID-19 crisis.

Other measures proposed by JAMPRO are:

• Driving the conversion to a digital economy, by upskilling our young people during this e-learning stay-at-home opportunity and accelerating the development of a National Digital Services Strategy

• Improving our service and relevance to local businesses, which must become the drivers of Jamaica’s economic recovery, particularly with global foreign direct investment expected to fall by five per cent to 15 per cent.

• Increasing government coordination with organisations like the Planning Institute of Jamaica and Sugar Company Holdings to pool our resources in developing coherent strategies to sustain and drive the economy during and after the crisis period, respectively.

• Stepping up our advocacy to Government on behalf of the productive sector and enhancing our programme of improvements to the business environment.

• Partnering with bodies like the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Scientific Research Council to develop new products for the post-COVID world.

• Facilitating the sustaining of business operations by unearthing commercial opportunities and connecting business players across key sectors to drive these opportunities.

• Exploring the challenges regionally to determine how Jamaica can support commercial activities through collaboration with our Caribbean neighbours, as we all grapple with the potential impact of the virus on sectors like tourism.