“The growth we seek must be robust, strong and sustained. The growth we are working for must be equitable and inclusive,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
She pointed out that, against this background, the Government of Jamaica is working to achieve growth with job creation and is encouraging the rise of a new business-owning class to include all Jamaicans. “Without jobs and successful business ownership our people will have no hope,” the Prime Minister noted.
She was speaking on yesterday , as she declared open, a high-level forum organised by the IMF focusing on “Unlocking Economic Growth in the Caribbean.”
Underscoring the importance of the forum, the Prime Minister said that at this moment, there can be no greater imperative for Jamaica or the Caribbean region, than the great urgency of economic growth.
She expressed the view that: “Achieving appreciable, sustainable and equitable economic growth in Jamaica coupled with job creation must be the ‘prize’ for the extreme sacrifices our people have been making, in our efforts to put our economy on the right track once and for all.”
She shared with those attending the forum Jamaica’s efforts to tackle Jamaica’s high energy costs, the greatest deterrent to high levels of economic growth in Jamaica. This, she framed within the context of energy being a major factor in the competitiveness of the local economy, particularly in the two sectors which use significant amounts of it – mining and manufacturing.
She said energy represented one third of Jamaica's import bill; more than 125% of the country's merchandise exports and placed a significant impact on the disposible incomes of of individuals and businesses. "
“Based on preliminary modelling by the ESET, Jamaica is looking to reduce our energy cost in the region of 30 per cent by 2018, resulting in projected savings of approximately US350 million dollars,” she announced.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller also pointed to contracts having been recently concluded for the supply of 78 megawatts of electricity from wind and solar as the Government seeks to meet its National Energy Policy commitment to having at least 20 percent of the country’s energy mix coming from renewable sources by 2030.
The Prime Minister called for greater levels of financing to enable national economies to redouble their efforts at energy conservation. She said there were early encouraging results from Jamaica’s Public Sector Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme, which is seeking to reduce the annual J$14 billion public sector electricity bill by 30 percent over four years.
She commended the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank for supporting energy conservation with some level of funding, but noted that: “What is still required, at the risk of being impatient, is more money and greater investment to be able to accelerate and broaden these programmes.”
Naming several investment activities by local and foreign investors in the Jamaican economy, the Prime Minister said she is encouraged that with the government and private enterprise working hand in hand, Jamaica is making steady progress.
She pointed to Wednesday’s breaking of ground for the construction of a US$25 million logistics facility at Kingston Wharves Limited as part of a US$70 million investment there.
The investment of US $610 million by an overseas company in new construction for the North/South Highway, was another growth-inducing project cited by the Prime Minister.
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