Saturday 19 September, 2020

PSOJ online conference to examine road to economic recovery

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Keith Duncan.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Keith Duncan.

In light of the economic issues that the country is currently grappling with, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is convening thought leaders in the private and public sectors via an online conference on August 14, 2020.

This business conference will be held under the theme, “Crossing the Chasm: The Road to Economic Recovery”. It will lay out some of the major challenges that the country is still facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers will include the Dr Nigel Clarke, Minister of Finance and Public Service; Fayval Williams, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Minister; Richard Byles,  Governor Bank of Jamaica; Henry Mooney, Economic Advisor, International Development Bank (IDB); Chairman National Commercial Bank, Michael Lee-Chin and President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Richard Pandohie.

PSOJ President Keith Duncan pointed out that,“Despite the multi-faceted challenges arising from COVID-19, the good news is that we are seeing some green shoots. The Government of Jamaica (GOJ), private sector and civil society has already responded proactively to the times.”

For instance, Prime Minister Andrew Holness established under the chairmanship of Minister of Finance, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, which pulled together the leaders in the government, private sector and civil society to devise the strategies to not only rebuild Jamaica but to return the country to pre-COVID real GDP and address the structural gaps that the country has faced for decades. 

The final report of the task force was published on June 30, 2020. Protocols were developed to ensure businesses could get up and running while keep the populace safe.

Duncan went on to state his observation that the local financial institutions have responded by offering more flexible credit terms including loan moratoriums, relaxing of fees and extension of working capital for businesses and consumers.

He also noted that the Bank of Jamaica immediately responded through the easing of monetary policy which has seen a significant injection of liquidity into the system.

The central bank provided forbearance to the deposit taking institutions in order to give them the room to accommodate their clients who require time and access to working capital.

The Government of Jamaica has also ensured that Jamaica's fiscal profile and debt dynamics remain under control and macroeconomic stability is maintained while providing over $30 billion in fiscal stimulus including the CARE programmes to provide much-needed support to dislocated workers and businesses, the PSOJ president noted.

The fallout in balance of payments has been addressed through the accessing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF’s) Rapid Finance US$520 million facility, Duncan added.

In addition, Duncan has pointed out that “As a result of these proactive efforts of stakeholders along with the phased opening of the economy we have begun to see in the past two months an encouraging pick up in the domestic economy.”

Remittances are surprisingly up year over year, tax revenues are ahead of budget. The manufacturing, construction, agriculture, wholesale and retail distribution sectors along with global services are rebounding strongly.

“Notwithstanding these positive signs, we are by no means out of the woods, as tourism while being opened, faces great challenges and this impacts all sectors that have linkages to this anchor sector. This will create significant challenges to our business community and those employed directly or indirectly to this sector,” he said.

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