Government allocates $650 million to competitiveness and growth programme

An additional $650 million has been budgeted to continue work under the Foundations for Competitiveness and Growth Project during the upcoming fiscal year.

This is set aside in the 2021-22 Estimates of Expenditure, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on February 18 by Finance Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke.

The project, which initially ran from September 2014 to June 2020, is intended to strengthen Jamaica’s business environment for private sector investment by enhancing competition in the business environment; facilitating strategic private investments; strengthening small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) capabilities; and financing policy and societal learning through project implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

The project received external funding assistance totalling $5.18 billion, up to December 2020.

Among the achievements, up to then, were the disbursement of $421 million in grants to more than 370 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in 18 supply chains; disbursement of 155 loans, valued $2.55 billion, to 140 SMEs; configuration and customisation of the Jamaica Development Applications Portal; completion of merger and review of proposed amendments to the Fair Competition Act; and completion of the Export-Import (EXIM)Bank organisational development review.

Activities scheduled for 2021-22 include digitisation of the National Land Agency’s land-titling records; continued implementation of the Government’s novel coronavirus emergency broadband network; completion of the master plan for the downtown Kingston and Falmouth water and sewerage systems; development of implementation plan for the redevelopment of downtown Kingston market and commercial district; and completion of the Companies Act legislative review.

Another $110 million is earmarked to be spent during fiscal year 2022-23 on the project, which has been extended to June 2022.

The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; Planning Institute of Jamaica; Development Bank of Jamaica; and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro), with funding from the World Bank.