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Prime minister calls for more private investments

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness is calling for increased private investments, as the Government continues to maintain proper fiscal management that will facilitate growth in the economy.

Speaking at the Jamaica Flour Mills plant rededication ceremony at the facility in Kingston yesterday, Holness said steps have been taken to ensure macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability.

“We are changing the environment... the change is happening in Jamaica,” the prime minister noted, adding that these changes have resulted in ongoing debt reduction, low interest rates and low inflation.

“We have reduced our debt-to-GDP ratio from 141 per cent, and by the end of this year, we will be below 100 per cent. All Jamaicans should take great pride in saying our interest rates are now at record low,” he said.

The prime minister said that employment is growing at such a rate “we have never seen before in the history of Jamaica”.

Holness said he is “pleased” with the findings of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Business and Consumer Confidence Survey for the third quarter, as it shows that consumer confidence is “very high”.

“It means that consumers are likely to not just spend more but invest more, and it means that businesses will continue to invest. There is a very high level of optimism in Jamaica,” he said.

The prime minister noted too that the Jamaica Stock Market continues to grow at an “amazing pace,” and that Bloomberg cites it as being one of the fastest growing stock markets in the world.

Holness said the Government is building on the level of confidence that is being shown, “making investments in the infrastructure (new roads)…not just the hard infrastructure, but we are putting in place the regulatory environment”.

He noted that improved service delivery and reduction in the bureaucratic culture in the public sector will positively impact the business and investment climate in Jamaica.

“The public sector is there as a service to the citizens of the country and to the businesses and entrepreneurs of the country, to make it easier for them to do business and to grow their business, so that we can get more taxes and pay the public sector better. It's not my intention to scare anymore, but rather to encourage more investments,” he said.

In the meantime, Holness said national security remains a priority for the Government, and that strategies will continue to be implemented to tackle the issue.

“Murders are down 20 per cent and we will continue to work very hard to ensure that we keep that particular index of security heading downwards,” he added.

The prime minister lauded the Jamaica Flour Mills and congratulated them on achieving their 50-year mark.

For his part, Managing Director of the Jamaica Flour Mills, Derrick Nembhard, thanked the partners, customers, distributors, suppliers and employees who have contributed to the company's longevity.

He said the company is aware that consumers are looking for new options in carbohydrate solutions, and have been using indigenous crops to process and market value added products for the local and export markets.

“We are also far advanced in making available to consumers gluten-free flour, which we are now testing to ensure that we have a functional product which can be marketed to bakers for speciality products. We have also completed the reformulation of our mixes to reduce the sugar content, so that we can be in alignment with the Ministry of Health's thrust to reduce the sugar intake of Jamaicans,” he said.

He noted too that most of the packaging materials are biodegradable, thereby minimising the impact on the environment.

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