Addressing the opening of the 19th Forum for Markets Innovation and Capital (FOROMIC) at the Montego Bay Conference Centre, in Rose Hall, St. James, Mr. Holness noted that the IDB has also been instrumental in the implementation of a series of reforms that have assisted greatly with the enhanced competitiveness of the Jamaican economy.
“The partnership with the IDB has been primarily through the Competitiveness Enhancement Programme, which has among its objectives, improving access to finance and financial market development,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
“Indeed, continued IDB support is being contemplated through a Credit Enhancement Programme which will target the Small and Medium-size Enterprise (SME) sector,” he said.
The Prime Minister emphasised that Jamaica is actively pursuing strategies to ensure that the private sector, of which the SMEs are a major part, assist the Government in driving economic growth.
“We acknowledge that we have challenges to overcome, including crime. We will however, reiterate that empowering businesses will drive inclusive economic growth, and is one of the most effective ways to overcome poverty and channel individuals towards viable income-generating opportunities,” he said.
He noted that the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Policy which was passed in Parliament in July 2013, seeks to guide the coordinated implementation of strategies to improve the local business climate and reduce some of the impediments which some of the MSMEs encounter in doing business.
“The goal is to support MSMEs to become robust, dynamic and successful in order to grow our economy,” the Prime Minister explained.
He said that the theme of FOROMIC 2016 – ‘Creating Opportunities Through Financial Inclusion’ – underscores the critical interconnected balanced approach that must be taken to increase value from the infinite possibilities which abound.
“Financial inclusion refers to access to affordable financial services such as credit, insurance and savings, particularly for the disadvantaged and low-income segments of our society,” Mr. Holness added.
The Prime Minister said that economic research has shown that financial inclusion almost always leads to poverty reduction. “It is also a major factor which is positively influencing the growth of MSMEs and the creation of jobs, especially new jobs,” he added.
The Prime Minister further pointed out that the Government’s goal is to provide the best business climate and support services to encourage financial inclusion and drive sustainable economic growth and meaningful job creation.
“This will simply mean that individuals and MSMEs will, therefore, benefit and better position themselves to strengthen Jamaica’s economy and our participation in global trade,” he continued.
He said that the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that globally, MSMEs contribute approximately 55 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), 65 per cent of employment in high-income countries and more than 90 per cent of employment and 70 per cent of GDP in middle-income countries.
The Prime Minister further added that CARICOM also estimates that MSMEs account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in the region.
“Jamaica’s Labour Force Data indicate that the own account category, representing mostly sole traders, accounted for 430,000 persons or 36 per cent of the average employed labour force in 2015,” Mr. Holness noted.
The Prime Minister said that in addition, MSMEs make an important contribution to gender equality in the local economy, with women representing approximately 52 per cent of the labour force in the micro and small sector.
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