Lee Chin aims for 5% annual GDP growth

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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JAMAICAN-born billionaire investor Michael Lee Chin assumed the chairmanship of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) yesterday, with a clarion call for Jamaicans to work with the newly created body to target a five per cent annual growth rate for the next four years.


"As chairman of the EGC, I pledge that the EGC will work tirelessly and passionately to achieve a GDP growth rate of five per cent over the next four years," Lee Chin told the press launch of the council at Jamaica House.


He pointed out that a five per cent annual growth rate over the four-year period would be 10 times more than the country has realised over the last 20 years, and 25 times more that it has seen over the past 25 years.


He recalled that a 5.4 per cent growth in the Jamaican economy in 1969 enabled him to obtain a job at Alpart, which was further nurtured by an 11.9 per cent growth in 1970, which set him off on his journey to financial fulfillment.


"So having growth in Jamaica enabled this high school grad to have got a job and become an independent fulfilled citizen. So it is essential for us to focus on growth to make sure that this situation is not unique, but that it is replicated, wholesale, right across the country for every single Jamaican," Lee Chin said.


He stated that his decision to accept the invitation from Prime Minister Andrew Holness to chair the new body, which he admitted is a major challenge, was because he felt a duty to ensure that "every Jamaican child have the same opportunity for fulfillment" as he has had in Jamaica.


"That’s my reason for doing this," said the 65-year-old Jamaican business magnate, investor, and philanthropist who is rated among the top 26 richest citizen of Canada, his adopted home, with a networth of over US$2.6 billion.


A native of Portland, Lee Chin is the founder and chairman of Portland Holdings Inc, a privately held investment company which owns a collection of diversified operating companies in sectors that include media, tourism, health care, telecommunications (including CVM Television) and financial services (including Advantage General Insurance) as well as tourist attractions.


"We are all as mad as hell and we won’t take any more. So we are going to do something about it. But, we have to be strong and take a different path, a calculated path which some may say is risky, but we have no choice. The status quo is not good enough," he insisted.


Lee Chin’s words energised a Jamaica House meeting room full of Government ministers, including Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw; Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda; and ministers without Portfolio in the newly created Ministry of Economic Development and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, who chaired the function, and Derrick Smith; as well as newly appointed investments ambassador Nigel Clarke, senior public service officials and media personnel.


Also present were Lee Chin’s mother, Hyacinth Gloria Chen and his stepfather Vincent Chen.


Prime Minister Holness said that Lee Chin’s assumption of the role of chairman of the EGC meant that his Government has "struck a partnership with one of Jamaica’s finest sons".


However, he said that there was a role for every Jamaica in the efforts to return to resume higher growth levels.


"We are bringing you in at the table. We are not leaving you out. This is about every single Jamaican participating in that dream to step up the growth," he told the press conference.


Vaz assured the audience that the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will facilitate and enable the initiatives proposed by the EGC.


"As quickly as you can open those doors and bring them to our shores, is as quickly as we will do everything possible to facilitate and expedite and enable those large investments," Vaz told Lee Chin.

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