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Jamaica’s Business Ministry Strategic Objectives For 2023 Will Focus On Increasing Exports And Local Direct Investments.



The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce’s strategic objectives for 2023 will focus on increasing exports and local direct investments, and training unattached youth.

Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, outlined details of these during the Ministry’s Rebranding and Quality Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday (January 18), at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Kingston.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, and executives of the Industry Ministry’s departments and agencies, were among the guests attending.

Senator Hill said the Ministry will be looking to meet the targetted objectives under its new unofficial brand, ‘Jamaica’s Business Ministry’, by collaborating with businesses, engaging trade missions, implementing legislative frameworks, and working closely with its relevant agencies and departments.

Senator Hill emphasised the importance of increasing exports, in order to significantly boost earnings generated for Jamaica.

“If we only keep selling to Jamaicans, we will never become a wealthy country. We cannot remain poor people… we must export to the world,” he said.

Consequently, Senator Hill advised, the Ministry and its agencies will be advocating for more local direct investments as financial institutions continue to provide the private sector with more opportunities for accessing capital.

“The banks have a lot of money to lend, because the Government is not borrowing; we stepped out of the market. So, you [the private sector] can have all the money you want,” he declared.

Senator Hill advised that businesses are the “largest providers of money that the Government spends”, which requires the Ministry to take a “laser-sharp focus” on helping, encouraging and facilitating these entities to excel and be profitable.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the training and certifying of approximately 400 unattached youth will be pursued through a programme with the HEART/NSTA Trust.

“We need to take them (youth) in. HEART/NSTA is working out a programme that will start… this month. We must train, because the businesspeople say they want [to employ] people,” he argued.

The Minister encouraged the business community to take greater responsibility in providing training opportunities for youth.

“What I found is many businesses overseas, especially in developed economies, [and] some very astute emerging market economies… are training their people well. If we don’t, we’re going to remain poor. Those of us who are privileged to lead must help them get to a better place,” Senator Hill stated.

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Government of Jamaica and Georgia Aquarium Sign Blue Economy MoU



Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, (third right) and President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Aquarium, Dr. Brian Davis (second left) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will facilitate the exploration of opportunities in the blue economy. Looking on (from left) are Director of Policy at the Georgia Aquarium, Dr. Dayne Buddo; President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Shullette Cox; and Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority, Mrs. Kelli-Dawn Hamilton. Others from (background, left) are Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, Oliver Mair, and Jamaica’s honorary consul to Atlanta, Dr. Elaine Bryan. The MoU was signed at a reception hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta at the Georgia Aquarium on Wednesday (May 24).


Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Georgia Aquarium, as Jamaica explores opportunities in the blue economy towards national development.

The MoU was signed at a reception hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, at the Georgia Aquarium on Wednesday (May 24), and formed part of the Minister’s two-day trade visit to Atlanta.

The World Bank defines the blue economy as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of the marine and coastal ecosystem.

In his remarks, Senator Hill said Jamaica was pleased to be a part of the blue economy initiative.

He commended Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami with responsibility to Atlanta Oliver Mair, whose initiative it was to partner with the Atlanta Aquarium.

For his part, President and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Aquarium, Dr. Brian Davis, explained that the memorandum signed, was made possible from previous meetings, as well as work conducted over the last two years in Jamaica with local partners.

“We believe that we are in a strong position to explore working closely with the Government of Jamaica in a number of aspects,” Dr. Davis said.

Under the signed MoU, commercial cooperation by way of the purchase of ornamental fish for their location, as well as the aquarium industry in the United States of America (USA) is expected.

In addition, the Atlanta Aquarium will be working with the Government of Jamaica to assist in skills and capacity training and development, to support aquatic sustainability including animal care and life support systems.

Both parties will also work towards the protection of important marine areas through the establishment of fish sanctuaries in Jamaica. This will build on the work done so far in Jamaica, for the two new sanctuaries being gazetted.

Also, under the MoU, Georgia Aquarium will work with the Government of Jamaica to conduct research and education on sharks, towards the possible establishment of a shark sanctuary in Jamaica.

An exchange programme is also being looked at to facilitate the exchange of students and early career professionals, to gain exposure to relevant training programmes and environments both in the USA and Jamaica.

Both parties will also work towards the establishment of a Port Royal exhibition at the Georgia Aquarium, which will highlight Port Royal and the marine protected areas.

The Georgia Aquarium is the most popular visitor attraction in the state of Georgia, generating over US$120 million in estimated annual revenues, and has stimulated over US$5 billion of investments in the city of Atlanta.

While in Atlanta, Senator Hill met with several business interests and addressed a business breakfast sponsored by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce of Altana.

He also attended a town hall meeting by members of the Jamaican community in Atlanta.

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Jamaica Lauded for Business Digital Platform



Jamaica has one of the best digital platforms in the region, says Managing Director of LPA Corporate Solutions (Caribbean) Limited, Elena Henckel DaCosta.

The platform, dubbed the ‘Jamaica Business Gateway’, is designed to streamline business to government interactions. It was recently launched at the AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston.

Speaking at the event, Mrs. DaCosta said the new platform is one of the best government portals in the region and Western hemisphere.

“I have analysed scores of government portals from Singapore in the east to Puerto Rico in the west, and if I may humbly say, the Jamaica Business Gateway (JBG) is world-class,” she said.

Mrs. DaCosta pointed out that with the platform’s launch, “many governments in the region will soon be knocking at your doorstep, asking for a peek into your progress as will become a flag bearer for digital transformation.”

Prior to the launch, there was no central platform where businesses, citizens and investors could go to submit applications digitally for several government services, apply for permits, licences, authorisations and/or approvals, as these were, and some still are, performed with paper-based or other manual processes.

Mrs. DaCosta recounted that when the project started 15 months ago, “it was merely an idea with some powerful concepts surrounding judicially transforming the way government interacts with the private sector, citizens and international investors in the process of executing e-government services.”

The development saw various supervising agencies, beneficiary groups, Ministries, Departments and Agencies working tirelessly to design the JBG – a solution which encompasses and envisions all stakeholder benefits and expectations.

Recognising the hard work of the supporting agencies, including the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Mrs. DaCosta said she has worked in information technology for the past 25 years, and “I’m totally inspired by Jamaica’s exemplary approach to project development and oversight.”

“Nowhere else have I worked, witnessed and experienced the level of responsibility, accountability and transparency adhered to and absorbed by these agencies, in their supervising capacity throughout the life of the project,” the Managing Director added.

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Deposit Portability Could Be A Reality Soon in Jamaica



Deputy Governor, Research and Economic Programming Division and Financial Stability, Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Robert Stennett.

Individuals could soon be able to move their accounts easily from one bank to another.

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is actively developing strategies to make deposit portability a reality locally.

Deposit portability will give the banked and unbanked the flexibility to shop around at the various banks to find the services that best suit their needs.

In addition to other features, the dream is that all standing instructions, inclusive of direct debits of credit cards, will remain intact without the complicated account opening procedures or know-your-customer (KYC) hassles.

Speaking with JIS News, Deputy BOJ Governor, Research and Economic Programming Division and Financial Stability, Robert Stennett, explained that the Central Bank is aware that the initiative is a game changer for banking in Jamaica.

“The Central Bank is currently working on strategies that will allow customers to close existing accounts and move their business to another bank easily; and what we call this is actions that will facilitate deposit portability,” he said.

Mr. Stennett noted that the BOJ would have to ask crucial questions to make this a reality.

“What is it that facilitates people’s ability to move their accounts around, to shop around and to actually move their accounts around,” he said.

“We admit that this is going to be a long-term effort, because it’s going to take a lot of time to develop the right strategies, lot of time to make the necessary amendments to the law, if there so needs to be, and a lot of time to sensitise and make customers aware of this facility,” the Deputy Governor further told JIS News.

In the meantime, the BOJ said it is cognisant that bank customers have not seen their savings gain significant interest, adding that it is wise for them to shop around to see the banks that offer higher interest on their savings.

“What the Central Bank has been doing recently is placing the information about interest rates and deposits in the public media, so that the public can see which bank is paying interest rates of say ‘x’ and ‘y’ per cent,” Mr. Stennett said.

The BOJ hopes that the transparency will allow customers to make informed decisions about their savings.

“The hope is that because of the transparency that this publication affords, customers will be able to move their deposits where they are able to. But of course, the Central Bank recognises that not all customers are able to easily get up and move their banking business from one bank to the next; and this is why we are working on deposit portability,” Mr. Stennett added.

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70 Additional Buses Expected for The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) By September 2023



The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) is to receive 50 additional buses, 45 diesel and five electric, by month end.

Additionally, 20 compressed natural gas (CNG)-fuelled units will be added to the fleet under a joint arrangement with private-sector partners. These are expected by September.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Audley Shaw, made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (May 9).

“We are currently engaged in a Battery Electric Bus pilot project for the testing of six electric buses, which will evaluate the performance of these electric buses and form the basis for comparison to the diesel and compressed natural gas buses,” Mr. Shaw said.

“As a matter of fact, one electric bus is already in operation. As we take steps to address the number of seats needed to transport commuters, we are expecting to procure 200 electric buses over the next two years, among other initiatives being explored,” he added.

Mr. Shaw also informed that the JUTC has digitised its processes to facilitate application for charters and subfranchise licences, pointing out that an online portal was launched by the company in February this year.

He noted that this is a major step towards making the entity’s services more accessible and the processes more user-friendly.

“Persons who are interested in applying for charters or subfranchise licence may visit the JUTC’s website at and make the necessary arrangements and pay for the service online,” the Minister stated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw said the current fare collection system used by the JUTC has become obsolete.

He informed that the procurement process for an upgraded Cashless Fare Collection System was significantly advanced; however, it was redirected for consideration by the Public Investment Appraisal Branch (PIAB).

“A pilot project where the system [is] operating on all the JUTC’s buses, at no cost to the people of Jamaica, is to be implemented. The outcome of this pilot will assist the process of review by the PIAB and further guide the way forward,” Mr. Shaw said.

Regarding the matter of fuel pilferage, the Minister noted that for more than two decades, the matter has been an issue for the JUTC.

“We are pursuing new methods to combat the innovative means by which thieves have been pilfering fuel. Without divulging too much, due to the sensitivity and security issues around this matter, we are working with a local company to introduce a technology-based solution that will assist us in detecting, locating, and tracking fuel theft where it occurs,” Mr. Shaw indicated.

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Jamaica Transport Authority Generates 88,000 Road Licences



The Transport Authority (TA) has surpassed the production target of 86,000 road licences, to record a landmark 88,000.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Audley Shaw, said these include Hackney, Rural Stage, Contract Carriage, Route Taxi, Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Subfranchise, Private and Public Carriers Licences.

He made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 9).

Mr. Shaw also informed that monitoring of public transportation services in Kingston was also enhanced with the re-establishment and relocation of the TA’s Operations Department to the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre from its previous location at Maxfield Avenue.

“This strategic positioning of the enforcement arm of the Authority closer to the hub of transport activity fostered better monitoring within the Half-Way Tree area and other key corridors in the metropolis,” he stated.

The TA also retrofitted several key areas to enhance customer service delivery.

Customer-centric services are now provided in one location at 107 Maxfield Avenue, which houses the Licensing Department and Motor Vehicle Release Unit, while the Corporate Office remains at 119 Maxfield Ave.

Additionally, customers in St. Catherine are now benefiting from the commissioning of the Transport Authority’s Linstead satellite office.

“Since its establishment, there has been marked improvement in public order within the public transportation services in the bustling township of Linstead,” Mr. Shaw indicated.

The entity is also targeting other initiatives for fiscal year 2023/24, including implementation of an islandwide camera network infrastructure with other agencies to improve monitoring capabilities within the transport sector, and temporary relocation of the Transport Authority’s Lakes Pen pound facility in St. Catherine to Water Lane in Kingston.

Other initiatives include the implementation of the TA’s Digital Transformation Project.

This will focus on digitising all processes associated with licensing, operations and the legislative framework governing the Authority; the establishment of a satellite office in St. Elizabeth, and the rollout of an Electronic Ticketing System to replace written summonses.

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