In her speech, read by Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding, at a banquet to mark the 30th anniversary of the Montego Bay Freezone, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James, on June 6, the Prime Minister pointed out that the Montego Bay Freezone raked in some US$120 million during last year.
She added that because of the dedication of the Freezone workers, Jamaica now sits high on the list of countries being sought by investors, especially in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.
“The men and women of the Montego Bay Freezone, through your stellar work, have contributed to the reputation of the zone as one of the most sought after locations for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in Jamaica and the world,” the Prime Minister noted.
Mrs. Simpson Miller also heaped accolades on the companies which operate from the Montego Bay Freezone.
“Your contribution is invaluable. As a Government, our commitment to you is to work hand in hand for the continued success of your businesses and the expansion of your operation,” she said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that over the 30 years of operation, the Montego Bay Freezone has proven itself to be both nimble and adaptable to market trends which have shifted from being a mainly manufacturing sector in the early years, to its current focus on services, especially in the BPO industry.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said in spite of the changes in market trends, the Freezone has remained true to its mandate of generating foreign investments, creating employment opportunities and facilitating the transfer of technologies.
Referring to the Montego Bay Freezone as a “jewel in the crown” of successive Governments, the Prime Minister said it is the second largest employer in Western Jamaica and facilitates the employment of 7, 200 persons directly, which means some 43 per cent of employment within the BPO sector in is accounted for in the Montego Bay Freezone.
For his part, Senator Golding informed those in attendance that the Government has developed a strategic plan which seeks to ensure the sustainable growth of the BPO industry over the next five years. He added that the plan has been approved by the Cabinet.
Several companies were recognized for being trend setters in the Freezone, while employees who have served for between 10 and 30 years were presented with tokens of appreciation.