Written by: Karena Bennett-Jamaica Observer
Date: March 24, 2016
PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Manufacturer’s Association (JMA) Metry Seaga has expressed concerns about the sluggish presentation of manifestos by the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as the general election draws near.
In an interview with the
Jamaica Observer yesterday, Seaga stated that the late presentation of both parties’ plans for different segments of the country has resulted in “very little” being presented on what will be done to by either party to enhance growth of the manufacturing sector, which immensely contributes to employment.
“Truth be told, there is very little in the manifestos in terms of details, it is a broad outline. The manifestos came out way too late, and there’s a void of details. And we are hoping that in the future we get manifestos much earlier and that they will have some substance that we can really pull apart and see what’s happening,” the president told the Business Observer.
He added that the manifestos lacked specifics as it relates to the manufacturing sector, how it will be able to obtain growth, and what the new Government will be doing to protect business operators within the sector.
According to the presentation by the PNP, “the expansion and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector will be a major area of focus during our next term. Based on our opportunities for linkages with the rapidly growing tourism industry and the revitalisation of agricultural output, the Government is deliberately facilitating the deeper integration of manufacturing with other sectors in the domestic economy”, it said.
“This sector is one of the major beneficiaries of economic reforms, especially the overhaul of the tax incentive system. The sector will continue to benefit from the reduction in the cost of energy from 40c per kilowatt hour to 24c per kilowatt hour,” adding that the sector has traditionally been a significant employer of labour and is expected to continue doing so as it is revitalised.
The JLP, on the other hand, stated that it anticipates the creation of up to 20,000 jobs in manufacturing and agribusiness, including value-added processed foods and furniture production, as it works to develop a more competitive economy as well as revived apparel and electronic sectors.
“For example, renewed focus on agribusiness in St Elizabeth with irrigation and processing plants in Black River, Flagaman, Meyersville, New Forrest, and the expansion of the Bull Savannah Plant, together with the dual use of the almost dormant Port Kaiser for agricultural exports, will create up to 3,000 new jobs,” the JLP’s manifesto added.
Seaga noted that following the election, individuals in the sector will have to sit with the Government and create policies that will foster an enabling macro and micro-environment.
The quarterly report obtained from the Planning Institute of Jamaica indicates that the manufacturing sector recorded the highest growth within the goods-producing industry, up 9.7 per cent over the October to December period of 2015. It represents an unprecedented increase in comparison to the previous quarters over the year, when the sector recorded -2 per cent and 0.2 per cent in the first and second quarters, respectively.
An overview of 2014 highlights showed that manufacturing contributed approximately 8.3 per cent to Jamaica’s gross domestic product and employed approximately 73,000 individuals, which translated to 6.5 per cent of the total labour force. Additionally, manufacturing exports amounted to a total of US$680 million.