A US$1 billion job creation fund proposed in Jamaica

richard bylesKINGSTON, Jamaica, Sunday August 2, 2015 – A top official of government’s Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) has charged the private sector to work with the administration in setting up a US$1 billion fund to finance projects in high growth sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO) and agriculture.

EPOC co-chairman Richard Byles said the US$2 billion raised on the international capital market to pay down the country’s PetroCaribe debt would provide the government with access to some US$500 million of “backup funding”, and that money could be used to implement a major job creation projects.

He challenged the private sector to step up to the plate and match that US$500 million.

“Let us have a billion-dollar fund and take that fund and invest it in projects, in economic activities that are productive, that give permanent jobs to Jamaicans,” Byles urged.

He said once members of the private sector got on board, they would have to be given the assurance that the US$1 billion would be spent “in a productive, constructive manner and not fritted away to give some jobs today and for there to be no jobs tomorrow”.

The EPOC pointed out that the construction of a technology park with some of the funds would create jobs and attract investors in the BPO sector, while investments in the agricultural sector, using technology and modern equipment, would play a key role in the country’s economic development.

Finance and Planning Minister Dr. Phillips, announced last week that the government was able to raise US$1.35 billion at a rate of 6.75 per cent and secure a 30-year issue for $650 million at 7.87 per cent,  which would enable it to buy back a substantial portion of the country’s debt to Venezuela.

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