PRESIDENT of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) Milton Samuda has called on Government to exercise wisdom in its negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure that the country does not lose its market competitiveness.
"We must insist that the negotiated framework does not rob us of the ability to compete with other markets pursuing the same investments," Samuda said in an address Saturday at the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments' (JAVA) Annual General Meeting and Awards Luncheon at Villa Viento in Tower Isles, St Mary.
Furthermore, he said that while it is important to protect and enhance revenue within a framework of a deepening financial crisis, "we cannot and must not do so without carving out the very tool that will help us to secure investment, especially foreign direct investment."
At the same time, Samuda said the country should be mindful of the fact that whether or not there will be a successful arrangement with the IMF, radical measures will have to be implemented to improve the state of the country's economy.
As such, he said Government and citizens as well will have to display courage and common sense.
"Demands over there must result in cuts over here," he said. "We must swallow the necessary medicine."
In the lead-up to last December's general election, then prime minister Andrew Holness cautioned that citizens would have to swallow "bitter medicine" in order for the country to recover from the economic slowdown.
On Saturday the JAMPRO head hinted at Holness' reference and listed measures such as wage restraint for both management and staff; performance-based production; a comprehensive pension plan; transparent systems of production; and an increase in export.
He, however, urged members of the private sector not to be put off by the apparent gloom over the IMF deal, but to continue working and investing.
"We cannot stop working, waiting on a deal. We cannot stop producing, waiting on a deal. We cannot stop investing, waiting on a deal," he said.
"We have to work that much harder, produce that much more, invest even more and that is the challenge," said Samuda, while encouraging Government to press along in the negotiations.
During the function, chairman of JAVA, Vana Taylor, who was awarded for 23 years as head of the association, called on Government to return certain privileges to villa and apartment owners that they once possessed.
According to him, JAVA members were once able to access loans with much more ease to upgrade their businesses but the process has become more tedious.
Nehru Caolsingh, operator of Crystal Waters Villas in Negril, and outstanding JAVA employees were also recognised, including Matilda Henry of Beanbird Villa, Discovery Bay, who was awarded Employee of the Year. Marcia Gilroy and Olive Johnson were second and third, respectively.