Thursday 17 October, 2019

Jamaican economy ripe for investments, says Lee-Chin

Chairman of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Michael Lee-Chin.

Chairman of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Michael Lee-Chin.

Chairman of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) Michael Lee-Chin is encouraging Jamaicans to invest in the local economy or be left behind as the country continues on a growth trajectory.

Speaking at the eight EGC report to the nation at Jamaica House last Wednesday, Lee-Chin said foreign investors are capitalising on investment opportunities, particularly in real estate.

He said, like Harlem in New York, Jamaica is undergoing rapid gentrification. 

Harlem was in a rundown state, Lee-Chin said, noting that when the neighbourhood was being gentrified, those living there had to move, as they were not property owners.

"Because of Jamaica's excellent location, Jamaica is being gentrified and because us in Jamaica are not historically asset owners, generally speaking, we will be displaced. Prices will go up and the foreign investors will come and buy up the assets as they did Harlem in Manhattan," Lee-Chin said. 

"If we don't learn the lesson from Manhattan we are going to be displaced into the sea and we are going to be continuously poor," Lee-Chin added. 

Lee-Chin, therefore, called on Jamaicans living on the island to use their status to gain from the investment opportunities and to also encourage relatives in the Diaspora to follow suit. He said this will ensure that international investors are the last to gain from the opportunities.

The renowned businessman also said Jamaicans must change the culture of using [up] all their earnings and start saving to be able to invest. He suggested that persons save 10 per cent of their earnings.

All the factors for investments in Jamaica are pointing in the right direction, with both business and consumer confidence at an all-time high, which he credits to the plans and workings of the EGC.

He said this includes over 380 meetings during the period, with a secretariat that he said is working tirelessly to ensure that projects are followed up.

Lee-Chin said the result is that the narrative of fiscal consolidation or belt-tightening has changed to that of growth, which has imbued confidence that is helping to ensure that his initial promise of five per cent growth in four years is kept.

Jamaica's achievements over the period include, the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) being ranked number one in the world by Bloomberg and the world’s top performing exchange over the past five years.

Debt to GDP has fallen from 147 to under 100, with the Net International Reserves at US$3.1 billion, inflation at 2.4 per cent, Bank of Jamaica interest at a low of 1.25 per cent, Lee-Chin outlined. 

He said since April 2016 the JSE index moved from 152,000 to 410,000 an increase of over 170 per cent with consumer and business confidence both being at an all-time high of 177.5 per cent and 151 per cent respectively.

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