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IMF man says agreement has growth plan

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 15, 2013    

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THE agreement being pursued by the Jamaica Government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has all the ingredients for economic growth, but success will depend on Jamaica's efforts, said IMF senior resident representative Dr Gene Leon.

"I hear in the news all the time that the IMF programme does not have a growth programme, but everything is linked. So, you cannot separate a growth programme and a non-growth programme. We get growth by mixing capital, labour, energy and know-how," Dr Leon said.

He was speaking at a public forum, "MSME's Waiting to Exhale", staged by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Alliance, the Jamaica Micro Financing Association (JaMFA) and the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL) at the PCJ Auditorium, New Kingston, last Thursday.

Dr Leon explained that to achieve growth will require a labour policy, a capital investment policy and an education, knowledge and accumulation policy; all taking place in the context of the markets and the environment.

"So, in essence, when you say that we have a growth platform, that essentially says that you are doing financial things and you are doing structural things, and those structural things are not going to bear fruit as quickly as the financial things, but they will begin the process to get you to the point where you start seeing the results. So there is a growth agenda," Leon stated.

He said that all the elements have been sketched out, and the programme will be taken to the IMF board for approval "at the soonest opportunity.

"That is the point that I think we need to be able to see going forward — that we have a diagnosis and the real work starts today. When you accept that responsibility, when you start the process of recognising that you are contributing not just to yourself, but to your organisation, to the country, and see how all the elements come together, this is when the work actually starts", he said.

"We need to understand, it took us 30-40 years to get here. We will not get out of here in two years. We will not get out of here in three years. Maybe we will not get out of here in five years. I want to be honest with you, you have to be able to stay the course, and the only way to stay the course, in my mind, is if you know where you are going, if everyone is committed, if everyone thinks that this is fair, if everyone believes that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if everyone can identify with a national effort," he said.

Dr Leon's comments followed an announcement by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton, that the Government hopes to table the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (MSME)/ Entrepreneurship Policy green paper in parliament by June.

Hylton, whose ministry is piloting the policy, said that with the budget debate to get underway on Thursday and continue into May, it is unlikely that there will be adequate time to accommodate the policy document in Parliament during that period.

"We expect that we should be able to table the green paper by the end of May (into) early June," he said.

He explained that it represents a comprehensive effort to "buttress" the MSME, through interventions aimed at removing barriers to the sector's growth and development, and enhancing its contribution to job creation. The framework also entails formulation of a vision for the sector, an analysis of its challenges stakeholders encounter, and recommended strategies to effectively address them.

He stated that the policy's framework was established through extensive consultations with a wide cross-section of key stakeholders, resulting in the formulation of a 14th draft.

"I believe it is fair to say that after 14 drafts, we would have captured quite a bit (of what needs to be revised). This has been a highly consulted document, as it should be, given the scale and scope of the activity we are addressing," Hylton said.

The green paper will go to parliament's Economic Development Committee, which is expected to meet after the budget debate.

"We expect that the changes that were recommended, which have been put in place, will allow for easier passage in parliament," Hylton said.

Other speakers at the seminar included chairman of the Jamaica Micro Financing Association (JaMFA) Hurshell Cyrus and management consultant, Dr Horace Williams. It was chaired by Dr Rosalea Hamilton, president of the MSME Alliance.

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