Sunday 23 February, 2020

World Bank Rep says innovation, skilled workforce needed for growth

World Bank Representative to Jamaica, Ozan Sevimli was among high-level speakers at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 15th Regional Conference on Investment and the Capital Markets.  (Photo: Dennis Coke)

World Bank Representative to Jamaica, Ozan Sevimli was among high-level speakers at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 15th Regional Conference on Investment and the Capital Markets. (Photo: Dennis Coke)

World Bank Representative to Jamaica, Ozan Sevimli is reaffirming the notion that stronger economic growth is essential for shared prosperity and poverty reduction.

Sevimli, who was among high-level speakers at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 15th Regional Conference on Investment and the Capital Markets last week, said growth will more likely come from a more skilled labour force.

He said though past growth in Jamaica has been concentrated in low skills sectors of the economy, namely agriculture and services linked to the tourism industry - going forward, growth will likely have to come “from sectors that require a more sophisticated and skilled workforce such as technology, logistics, financial services, or high-value added-agriculture.”

“Investments in human capital are increasingly important to ensure that all Jamaicans can benefit from growth, education, labour markets, health and social services,” he said.

Sevimli said the rural economy should not be left out.

“I should also mention the importance of growth in the rural economy to accelerate poverty reduction in Jamaica. More than half of the poor in Jamaica live in rural areas and derive their livelihoods from agriculture. They are more likely to suffer the consequences of climate change, and the negative impacts of the closure or shrinking of select industries such as sugar and bananas.”

The World Bank representative noted that with a large tourism sector, there is significant demand for agricultural products, much of which is currently met through imports.

In this context, he outlined, it is therefore “very important that constraints to agricultural production are addressed to that the sector can meet the demand of the tourism sector and thus, have a positive impact on rural incomes.”

Sevimli stated also that disaster preparedness was a matter to be more closely addressed.

“Closely linked to the growth and shared prosperity agenda is how the country is preparing for disaster risks linked to climate events. They have the potential to significantly derail growth and poverty reduction objectives as well as heighten fiscal risks in Jamaica,” he explained.

The World Bank representative said that environmental protection is not only important from the climate change and sustainability angle, preserving Jamaica’s natural capital is also the base of its tourism sector.

He acknowledged that Jamaica is already a front-runner among Caribbean countries in promoting climate and financial resilience in the face of natural disasters, “but even more can be done.”

Sevimli also lauded the JSE for hosting the conference on capital markets and investments. He said the event filled the role of facilitating innovation and providing information for companies needing funding.

The 15th JSE’s Regional Conference on Investment and the Capital Markets was held from January 21 to 23 at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.

Speaking to Loop News, Sevimli indicated that the JSE itself was highly rated for its role in pulling investors together and providing a platform for sourcing financing.

Billions in equity capital are raised on the exchange each year.

“I believe that functioning exchanges enable economic growth by facilitating the mobilization of financial resources, bringing together those who need financial resources to innovate, grow, or export, with investors who are ready to invest.”

“What is key is that these transactions happen in an environment that is transparent, equitable, secure, and well-regulated. Strong exchanges can also promote good corporate governance - supporting transparency and accountability, which then attracts more investments and encourages private sector-led growth.”

 

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