Editorial

A bold statement of confidence from the CB Group

Monday, August 21, 2017

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We share the view that the just-announced investment by Caribbean Broilers (CB) Group is indeed a big statement of confidence in Jamaica.

In fact, this investment, we hope, will signal to other businesses now weighing the possibility of setting up here that this country offers them opportunities to justify their spend.

As we reported yesterday, the company is investing $9 billion in a state-of-the-art processing plant over the next two years. This investment forms part of a $15-billion project planned by the CB Group over seven years.

Essentially the company is building a hybrid growth centre — which it has named The Nest — that will house a livestock research centre, over 500 acres of farm for its new crop division, Imagination Farms and a 'world-class' poultry processing plant at its Hill Run Farm in St Catherine.

Mr Matthew Lyn, a director of the CB Group, told us that the new plant will increase the company's productive capacity by more than 25 per cent. However, if there is a need to double production for the export market, they will be able to do so.

The new plant, we are told, will employ the finest technologies found throughout Europe and North America. With that type and scale of investment we are encouraged by Prime Minister Andrew Holness's pledge at the ground-breaking ceremony to continue creating an environment in which businesses can manage the risk of investment. He also vowed that his Government will maintain fiscal policy that is supportive of economic growth and job creation and, as such, is developing a policy for economic growth which he believes to be bipartisan.

“When this is done you will have a significant partner in growth and development in the public sector, and this will be a great catalyst for economic growth and job creation in this country,” he said.

Certainly these are commitments that Mr Holness has made public before, and we don't get the sense that he is merely repeating them “just to sound good” or to be commended for “saying the right things”.

But, even as the Administration pushes its growth agenda, it needs to give greater focus to some of the bureaucratic hurdles that still hobble business. That is one of the reasons public sector transformation is vital to the country's economic fortunes.

While we acknowledge that the time it takes to establish and start a business in Jamaica is less than it was a few years ago, the fact is that we are still lagging behind some countries against which we are competing for investments.

Prime Minister Holness told the CB Group ground-breaking ceremony on Friday that the Government is ensuring transformation of the public sector with a view to making it more efficient in its service to the private sector.

This, Mr Holness correctly argued, is necessary in order to reduce costs and improve support for the private sector “so that permits needed are (issued) quickly”.

Getting that done will require a huge shift in the anti-business culture that was spawned many years ago and fed by political opportunists with selfish motives that dismissed any notion of national development.

It is not too late, though, to generate that change. However, it will require political will, as there will be fallout, especially from those who will resist. The Government, therefore, must be brave.

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