PM: Lack of consensus on security could lead to losses

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaoserver.com

Monday, January 14, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has cautioned that failure to reach an agreement on how to secure the nation could result in the erosion of economic gains.

He was making reference to the Opposition People's National Party's refusal to support a further extension of the states of emergency.

“We have to reach a consensus about how we are going to secure our nation. Because all of what we are doing — all the lines of effort about increasing employment and creating growth, and being speedy with business — all depend on how safe people feel. Until we have a consensus on that, then all the gains that we make are easily reversed,” Holness warned.

The prime minister was speaking at last Wednesday's official opening of the Data Entry Building Number 7 at Montego Bay Free Zone in St James, which was constructed by the Port Authority of Jamaica in a bid to fulfil the rising demand of business process outsourcing (BPO) players for new spaces, as well as spaces for office expansion.

Addressing the recent downgrade in the ease of doing business report, Holness expressed that, while he is not pleased with the report, “it is not that we have fallen behind, because we weren't doing what we should be doing, what has happened is that other countries have moved faster than we have.”

Jamaica is ranked 75 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. Ease of doing business in Jamaica averaged 77.09 from 2008 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 94 in 2013 and a record low of 65 in 2015.

“Jamaica must always remember that we are in a competitive space. We tend to have a sense of exceptionalism about ourselves. We are the fastest people, we are the most creative, and other countries are quietly looking on and using our brand when we're not; becoming more disciplined when we reject discipline, becoming more orderly when we reject order, getting their society safer when we are arguing how to do that. And investors are looking on and saying, 'Well, what I will do is I come to Jamaica for the beach but I will go elsewhere for the investment',” Holness said.

“We must, as a country, reach a point where we conclude on certain things. One, we must conclude that we have to give priority to business and investment,” Holness said, adding that “we must become efficient in how approvals are granted”.

“It took us about 18 months to do this (Data Entry Building Number 7). I am certain it could have been done much faster. We have to start to look at our own business processes and eliminate the things from it that are unnecessary, that make no sense anymore in the grand scheme of things,” the prime minister continued.

The Data Entry Building Number 7 will, among other things, create opportunities for approximately 1,500 new jobs when fully occupied, and provide employment for tertiary graduates in supervisory, operations, facilities and project management positions.

The building is occupied lower floor of the by Concentrix, a publicly traded US-based operation, which is the second largest global provider of customer engagement services.

The upper floor is occupied by Unique Vacations Ltd, the support centre for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, which currently employs 205 agents and provides a wide range of travel and sales services for the company's brands.


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