Shaw expresses pride in JSE's performance

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 19, 2018

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Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw says that he is proud of the “phenomenal” performance of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) in promoting access to capital in recent years.

Speaking at Wednesday night's Mayberry Investment Limited's (MIL) first monthly investment forum for 2018, Shaw noted that the JSE has remained one of the best-performing stock exchanges in the world, measured by the performance indices, and is ranked in the world's top 10.

He pointed out that for the period April 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 the JSE's main index had advanced by 28.84 per cent.

“For the junior market index, during the April to December, 2017 period, the number of transactions increased by 58.6 per cent; the trade volume traded increased by 139.7 per cent; and the value traded increased by 76.3 per cent, when compared with the similar period of 2016,” he informed the well-attended forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

“This is clear indication that more investors are utilising the market in the pursuit of capital for business expansion,” Shaw noted.

He said that, during the period April 1- December 31, 2017, seven new companies were listed on the JSE and were able to raise a total of $12.85 billion.

“Four of these companies were part of the junior market and raised $1.2 billion,” he said.

“By the end of 2018, it is projected that at least 53 companies will be listed on the junior market, raising equity capital to $17.9 billion,” he noted.

The minister said that the prospective companies expected to list this year are drawn from various sectors of the economy, including medical and pharmaceutical, real estate, microfinance, service, IT, shipping and transportation, and retail.

Turning to the results from the Government's policy of shifting from direct to indirect taxation since taking office, he said this led to a $5.43 billion increase in General Consumption Tax (GCT) revenue, compared with 2016/17.

“This outturn showed that the increase in the PAYE threshold contributed to higher GCT revenues,” he noted.

On the fiscal objectives for 2018, he said that the government was cognisant that there is much work to be done. One such area he declared was in terms of business and consumer indices, a report of which was published in the press on Wednesday.

He noted that the survey, done by Don Anderson and Associates for the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, showed that business confidence jumped to 142.6 points for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with 135.2 points in the third quarter of last year and the 142 points recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.

However, while business confidence soared, consumer confidence declined by two percentage points.

Shaw said that it was evident that the drop in consumer confidence was influenced by the level of crime and violence in the country.

“We have to get a handle on the (crime) situation. The ecosystem for business growth must be supported by an environment in which people feel safe to leave their homes and go to work and their businesses, and feel safe to expand and hire more staff,” he said.

He added that another important area of focus during 2018 would have to be improving the cadre of skilled workers available to support growing industries, such as business process outsourcing (BPO).

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