21 Apr Excerpt from the Sectoral Debate Presentation made by Anthony Hylton
CONCERNS FOR THE ECONOMY
We are concerned primarily with the taxation measures imposed by the Administration, including the property tax measures that have been draconian and have been disabling for middle income persons and the working poor.
The question is, Mr. Speaker, if through carelessness this Administration allows the proverbial Humpty Dumpty (which is macro-economic stability) to fall, can it be put back together again under this Administration? We are concerned that the foundations of Macro-economic stability laid by the previous Administration, were built on the great sacrifices made by the Jamaican people, will be eroded.
Mr. Speaker, we are concerned as well that the pace of business environment reforms, has slowed to a crawl. As Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, I facilitated private sector investors putting concrete into the ground by significantly improving the ease and speed of doing business, as recorded by our significant improvement in the international indices to which I previously referred.
Mr. Speaker, the soft infrastructure, while not headline grabbing, were and remain of critical importance to attracting investment (both local and foreign), getting concrete into the ground, and putting our people to work! Again, Mr. Speaker, the plan was laid, the work was started, all this Administration has to do is follow the blueprint!
The failure of this Administration to maintain pace with the reforms is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the emerging Cannabis Industry, where waiting investments in medical marijuana have passed the point of frustration and are approaching anger. The failure to move forward within the set framework, is inexplicable because all this Administration has to do is follow the blueprint!
And Mr. Speaker, we are concerned that not enough attention is being paid to the social and economic inclusion of the people in the economic policies of this current Administration.
Mr. Speaker, I again make a special appeal on behalf of the MSME Sector as it relates to the possible use of unclaimed funds in dormant accounts in the banks. Some $48billion at last count!
Mr. Speaker, it is now generally accepted that the MSME Sector is the engine of economic growth with jobs. Yet of the share of the increased lending to the private sector by banks, the amount provided to the MSME Sector is a paltry 6%. This is not good enough, Mr. Speaker. Because, beyond risk assessment and capacity building lies the Gordian Knot of appropriate financing. As I have pointed out in a well-researched document submitted to the previous Cabinet and made available to the banks, many Developed Countries have decided to fund their MSME Sector from unclaimed funds in dormant accounts. There is urgency, Mr. Speaker, in us following suit. Again, Mr. Speaker, the plan was laid, all this Administration has to do is follow the blueprint!